Bank clerk William Marble is desperate for money to pay his family's bills. When his wealthy nephew visits, Marble asks him for a loan, but the young man refuses. Marble decides to kill his... See full summary »
Bank clerk William Marble is desperate for money to pay his family's bills. When his wealthy nephew visits, Marble asks him for a loan, but the young man refuses. Marble decides to kill his nephew. It is a twisted path to justice after Marble is transformed by the crime he committed and the wealth he gains. Written by
Subtle acting on Laughton's part .... well, as subtle as the Great Ham can get!
1932 seemed to be a good year for Charles Laughton to play weak, spineless men ... in Cecil B. Demille's "Sign of the Cross" he hammed and camped it up *big time* as the completely amoral (and weak and spineless) Nero, and stole every scene he was in. Pure, delicious ham -- do see it sometime!
His other weak man role of 1932, William Marble in "Payment Deferred", was played much more subtly ... it's about as subtle as I've ever seen Laughton. And he did one heck of a job playing a huge loser schmuck who commits murder, commits adultery, is a drunken slovenly mess, is callous to his daughter, yet somehow he manages to make us feel sorry for him and care about him. CL is an amazing actor that way! I'll try not to spoil the movie, but I do want to explain the title. "Payment Deferred" refers to CL's ultimate payment (the death penalty) ... he gets away with his first (and only) murder, but ends up going to prison for another person's suicide that very circumstantially appears to make CL the murderer. CL finally grows a spine, or at least a vertebra or two, at the end of the movie. His daughter comes to visit him. It is his last night alive; CL's fine meal on a silver platter indicates to us that this is his Last Meal. CL comforts his daughter, apologizes for being a lousy father, and says he's prepared for his fate, that it all makes sense to him and he's at peace with it. He's taking responsibility for his actions (finally) and is looking forward to meeting his dearly departed wife in the afterlife.
While CL makes the show, the supporting cast is terrific too. Dorothy Peterson was quite sympathetic as Charles's wife, the dysfunctionality of their relationship bonding them in a very close manner. She's sympathetic to him when she first thinks (incorrectly) that their newfound wealth is due to embezzlement; she holds CL and tells him it's alright. When she later finds out their wealth was actually due to murder, she again holds CL and keeps his secret. Very interesting relationship, to say the least.
A very young Maureen O'Sullivan (as CL's daughter) and Ray Milland (as CL's nephew) appear in the movie, as does Halliwell Hobbes (very briefly at beginning of film), whom you may remember as the stern and stuffy father of Dr. Jekyll's fiancé in the Fredric March version of that tale.
A particularly loathsome character, "Rita" (played very well by Verree Teasdale, whom I am not familiar with) reminded me of the character "Olga" in Freaks ... Olga was the "normal"-sized woman who had only money-grubbing on her mind and took financial advantage of midget Heinz who was flattered by her attentions. I suppose Rita reminded me of Olga because both Rita and Olga were blonde and had European accents and were taking advantage of vulnerable men. Olga was particularly vile in "Freaks" (another must-see movie, but not for everybody), so perhaps that explains my visceral hatred of Rita in this movie ... the two women were just too alike from my standpoint.
If you enjoy older movies, "Payment Deferred" is definitely one you should catch. I saw it on TCM recently, so I'm sure they play it every so often. Go to their website and have them send you an email alert when it's on next and/or add it to your TiVo wishlist!
24 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?