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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
At a time when so very few stage actors got to recreate their parts for the screen we are fortunate that MGM acquired Payment Deferred and Irving Thalberg wanted Charles Laughton enough to borrow him from Paramount and Adolph Zukor who had brought him to Hollywood on the strength of his performance in Payment Deferred. The play is adaption by Jeffrey Dell based on a novel by C.S. Forrester who is better known for such historical novels as the Horatio Hornblower series.
The play originated in Great Britain and Laughton created the role of the father on the stage with Elsa Lanchester playing his daughter. He also did it in 1931 for 70 performances also co-starring with his wife Elsa Lanchester. In 1931 during the Depression that was a respectable run on Broadway.
Laughton plays a bank clerk who's up against it in those Depression years with his family, wife Dorothy Peterson and daughter Maureen O'Sullivan facing imminent eviction. Along comes nephew Ray Milland, newly arrived from Australia, with a ton of money. He tries to interest Milland in a sure investment thing he's heard about from the bank, but can't capitalize on. When Milland refuses he poisons him when they're alone and buries him in the backyard, after taking whatever money he needs.
The investment pays off, but Laughton is not a criminal at heart and he's a rather weak willed individual who drifts into an affair with new neighbor Verree Teasdale again when wife and daughter are away. That leads to blackmail and another murder and all for the wrong reasons.
Mystery fans will no doubt catch the similarities between Payment Deferred and the James M. Cain classic, The Postman Always Rings Twice. It works out the same way in the film, so if you've seen the famous movie of that novel that starred John Garfield and Lana Turner you know how Payment Deferred will come out.
In adapting the play MGM did not do a terribly good job of disguising the stage origins. It is in fact a one set play, the living room of the Laughton/Peterson house. However Laughton is riveting in his part and the rest of the cast supports him ably.
When next broadcast don't miss Payment Deferred, for the legion of fans that Charles Laughton has, it's a must.
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