I Promised to Pay

1961

Action / Crime / Drama

4
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 100%
IMDb Rating 7 10 406

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Billie Whitelaw as Jackie Parker
Tom Bell as Blackie
Michael Craig as Johnny Mellors
Paddi Edwards as Beryl
720p.BLU
807.34 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 57 min
P/S 0 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 7 / 10

Another payroll robbery, but worth seeing!

Producer: Norman Priggen. A Julian Wintle—Leslie Parkyn Production, presented by Nat Cohen and Stuart Levy. Copyright 25 May 1962 by Lynx Films. U.S. release through Allied Artists: June 1962. New York opening (on the lower half of a double bill with Day of the Triffids) at neighborhood theaters: 10 May 1963. U.K. release through Anglo Amalgamated: 21 May 1961. Australian release (if any): Not recorded. 9,450 feet. 105 minutes. Cut to 94 and then 80 minutes in U.S.A. SYNOPSIS: Harry Parker (William Peacock) and his wife Jackie (Billie Whitelaw) have a couple of kids, are happy and are getting along fine. The future looks bright, for Harry and his partner Moore (Glyn Houston) have got the contract to carry the weekly payroll of a large company in their new, bandit-proof car — a security assignment that could lead to many more for the new two-man business. This news comes as a shock to handsome Johnny Mellors (Michael Craig). For months he has, with the help of a weak company employee, Dennis Pearson (William Lucas), tailed and timed the old car that used to do the wages run. And that's time well spent when the payroll in question is £100,000 a week.

Despite the armored car, Johnny is not going to let go of the prize. His plan to grab this fortune in notes is simple and bold.

COMMENT: (On the full DVD version from Optimum): They took 25 minutes out for the U.S. release and it's hard to imagine where they got this amount of slack footage from. True, Miss Prevost is somewhat lacking in color and glamour and undoubtedly some of her scenes could go without being missed, but otherwise this is a compact and excitingly staged, if predictably plotted crime melodrama, with the advantage of appropriately atmospheric actual locations in grimy Newcastle.

It's competently acted, though William Lucas rather overdoes his part as a nervous clerk and Miss Whitelaw is neither photographed nor costumed to her advantage.

The direction is at its best in the action spots, though sharp film editing increases the tempo of the film whenever things seem to be slowing down. And at least Mr. Craig is much less wooden than usual.

Reviewed by Spikeopath 8 / 10

The kids? Haven't you heard? They're orphans.

Payroll is directed by Sidney Hayers and adapted to screenplay by George Baxt from the novel written by Derek Bickerton. It stars Michael Craig, Françoise Prévost, Billie Whitelaw, William Lucas, Kenneth Griffith, Tom Bell and Barry Keegan. Music is by Reg Owen and cinematography by Ernest Steward.

A vicious gang of crooks raid an armoured van carrying the wages of the local factory. When all doesn't go to plan and the driver of the van is killed, the gang start to come apart from within, just as the police and a vengeful widow close in on them...

As tough as old boots! Out of Beaconsfield Studios, Payroll is the kind of British neo-noir that is adored by those that have seen it and yet it still remains a sleeper. Set up in the North East of England in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, there's a real sense of working class struggle pulsing through the picture. The character dynamics at work are nothing new in the history of the heist gone wrong movie, but the makers here insert two ladies into the equation and let them be prominent antagonists, and with some conviction as well. Time is afforded build up of characters, letting us into home lives and the planning of the crime, and then bam! It's the robbery and it pulls no punches.

Story is not without violence, and murders are coldly executed, and as the band of thieves begin to crack, led by ice cold scumbag Johnny Mellors (Craig), director Hayers puts them into a world of grim alleyways, terrace houses, back street pubs, sweat stained garages, marshy bogs and an imposing dockside ripe for a denouement. The mood is firmly set at fatalistic realism, and as Hayers tightens the noose around the dwindling gang of thieves, and Reg Owen's jazzy score flits around the drama (love that ominous double bass), we are led to a wholly satisfactory conclusion. Cast are great, especially the wonderful Whitelaw, and Steward's photography is crisp and on the money. 8/10

Footnote: Some scenes were filmed in Rugby, Warwickshire, so it's not exclusively on location in Newcastle. And of course as any Geordie will tell you, there's a distinct lack of Geordie accents in the picture.

Reviewed by sheridanelliot 7 / 10

Superior British crime thriller

Payroll is a product very much of its time, borrowing elements from the urban realism of fifties and sixties British cinema upon which to hang its fast-paced, wages-of-sin morality tale. The film is set in Newcastle (though you'd never guess it from the accents) and features strong performances from Michael Craig and Billie Whitelaw, with Françoise Prévost sizzling as the femme fatale par excellence.

The film starts out as a by-the-numbers heist thriller, before taking a sharp turn into territory that almost anticipates the revenge movie vogue of the seventies and eighties. The parallel story lines are handled adroitly, as is the animal attraction between Katie (Prévost) and Mellors (Craig), although William Lucas's turn as Katie's useless husband lacks subtlety.

Payroll is still an engrossing, entertaining and even mildly shocking watch. One weakness which will jar with the modern viewer is the incongruous hot jazz score; silence would have been preferable and more suited to the film's aesthetic.

Well worth a watch, even half a century on.

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