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
"Payment Deferred" is, to my mind at least, something of an anomaly; a pennydreadful murder melodrama that appears to have been transmuted, almost intact, from its stage origins onto the silver screen. What makes the movie fascinating is the degree to which the estimable cast utilizes the gestural and vocal histrionics of stage acting in a cinematic context. Whether this was a conscious choice on the part of the director, Lothar Mendes or whether the over-the-top filmscript simply encouraged the frenzied scenery chewing that ensues, is debatable. But, alas, it doesn't quite add up. All the actors (and they are good ones, too) pitch into their parts as if they're being urged, offscreen, to "play to the balcony." But a movie isn't a live play and the shrieking, the sobbing and the swank of guilt and remorse that might play before theatrical footlights and a live audience seem both affected and slightly risible here. I have a very high regard for Charles Laughton, and his yawps and bellows in this movie are certainly not boring to watch, but -- by the end of the movie -- I found myself unable to muster up either belief in his character (let alone the other characters) nor emotional catharsis at the end to which he comes. And melodrama (whether live or filmed) that fails to tug on our emotions is, for lack of a better term, failure.
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