5 user 1 critic

Respect the Law (1941)

Shows how so-called "minor" lawbreakers can do more damage than major criminals.


Joseph M. Newman (as Joe Newman)


Howard Dimsdale (original story), Howard Dimsdale (screenplay)


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Cast overview:
Moroni Olsen ... Dr. Walter Terriss
Richard Lane ... George Johnson
Frank Orth ... Peter Brennan
William Forrest ... Police Lieutenant Edward Macroy


A lesson in uncivic selfishness and the value of city ordinances. A public health officer describes an event at a coastal city where a wharf owner bribed a health inspector to ignore an infestation of rats. An outbreak of plague hits - first a dockworker dies then others near the harbor. The police join the health department in searching for the bribed inspector, who's holed up in the mountain cabin of the dock owner. As more die, it becomes urgent to find the inspector and his notes. The doc and the cop set out to catch a man's conscience. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Crime | Drama







Release Date:

4 January 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Crime Does Not Pay No. 33: Respect the Law See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Follows A Thrill for Thelma (1935) See more »

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User Reviews

Preachy and difficult to believe.
20 November 2013 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

I really enjoy the Crime Does Not Pay series of short films from MGM. However, after recently purchasing the DVD set, I notice that the quality and style of the films seems to have declined around WWII. In the earlier films, there was lots of action, violence and realism. However, starting in around 1940, topics changed from mobsters and killings to patriotism and civic duty. Not surprisingly, this sort of stuff comes off as preachy and is far less interesting to watch. While the usual MGM polish is still present, the films are a lot less watchable.

"Respect the Law" sure has a preachy title--and its purpose is to instill good citizenship with a message about as subtle as a stripper at a Baptist picnic! When the film begins, a businessman doesn't want to be bothered with the cost of paying for exterminators at the docks. Instead, he just bribes the official in charge of inspections. However, when Bubonic Plage breaks out because of all the rats, he and the inspector sure regretted their less than patriotic behaviors. In other words, if you cheat, you HATE America! Preachy, preachy, preachy. There's really nothing more I need to say about this one. It's watchable but also comes off as heavy-handed and a bit ridiculous.

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