The Public Pays

The Public Pays is a 1936 short crime film directed by Errol Taggart. In 1937, it won an Academy Award at the 9th Academy Awards for Best Short Subject (Two-Reel).[1][2] The film shows a dramatization of actual court records which tell the story of a gang's racketeering in the milk industry, and its eventual defeat through the heroism of one dealer.[3]

The Public Pays
Directed byErrol Taggart
Produced byJack Chertok
Written byJohn C. Higgins
StarringRichard Alexander
Barbara Bedford
Distributed byMGM
Release date
  • October 10, 1936 (1936-10-10)
Running time
19 minutes
CountryUnited States


We see three tough-looking men renting an office in one of the better buildings of Claybourne City. Soon "The Creamery Betterment Association" appears on their door. They intend to force every dealer in the city to sign as members, dues to be one cent on every quart of milk sold in the city; and the dealers are to get this back by raising the price of milk three cents a quart.

Then comes the technique for getting members; the vicious means resorted to in "stubborn" cases. Only one dealer, John Paige has the courage to hold out. He cooperates with the police, but weakens when his family is threatened. Police persuade him to wait, replace all his drivers with detectives, who arrest the gangsters when they do attack the trucks. Finally, the police surround members of the gang who are waiting in ambush to drill Paige's trucks with a "tommy" gun. This provides sufficient evidence, and the gang is arrested and sent to prison for 50 years.[3]



  1. "The 9th Academy Awards (1937) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  2. "New York Times: The Public Pays". NY Times. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
  3. Catalog of films for classroom use : handbook of information on films selected and classified by the advisory committee on the use of motion pictures in education. New York, N.Y.: Teaching Film Custodians, Inc. 1941. p. 222.
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