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Payment Deferred
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Payment Deferred More at IMDbPro »

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32 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Crime doesn't pay, even if you're Charles Laughton!

7/10
Author: David Newcastle from St. George, Utah
3 January 2001

A gem from the `crime doesn't pay' school of story-telling. Ray Milland has a pretty small role in this obscure but interesting crime drama. Banker Charles Laughton murders young Ray for the money he needs for an investment that will make him rich. In the first few minutes of the film, Ray ends up planted in Charles' back yard, and Charles turns into a nervous wreck, worried about who will dig up Ray. After the investment makes him rich, he sends his wife and daughter off on vacation while he has an affair. Just when you think Laughton couldn't get himself in any deep, the plot takes a surprising turn. The story will keep you guessing, and you won't be disappointed in the climax.

One little hint: the title doesn't refer to money. The `payment' is for crimes committed. As always, Laughton is a delight to watch, and Maureen O'Sullivan (his daughter) is as gorgeous as ever. `Payment Deferred' is a good example of the kind of deliciously bizarre films which the 1930's produced.

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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Subtle acting on Laughton's part .... well, as subtle as the Great Ham can get!

8/10
Author: Ursula 2.7T from my sofa
29 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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!

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20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Charles Laughton: Star

9/10
Author: drednm from United States
22 May 2005

Of all the stars of the 1930s, Charles Laughton was probably one of the most unlikely. He was fat, not handsome, and as hammy as any film actor in history. But he was also a colossal talent. For years, filmgoers couldn't take their eyes of him when he was on screen. Laughton was a star. Payment Deferred was an early starring role, and while Laughton is twitchy and hammy, he's also wonderful as the timid bank clerk who turns to murder. Stagy but effective little thriller. Maureen O'Sullivan and Ray Milland (in one of his first sizable roles) are also good as are Dorothy Peterson (as the wife), Veree Teasdale (as the shop owner), Halliwell Hobbes, Ethel Griffies, Doris Lloyd, Billy Bevan, and William Stack. But Laughton is front and center and he's a joy to watch.

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Charles Laughton Misbehaves

10/10
Author: Ron Oliver (revilorest@juno.com) from Forest Ranch, CA
25 February 2001

After committing a horrible murder, an insolvent bank clerk finds the PAYMENT DEFERRED on his crime in the most surprising matter.

Reprising his stage role, Charles Laughton, all fidgets & blinks, is the main reason to view this little film. He overacts outrageously and is vastly entertaining to watch, even if the plot of this domestic melodrama becomes turgid at times. With his large face, sad eyes & nervous body, he is the very picture of a man dealing with a terribly guilty conscience. Cooing like a dove, roused to brutish wrath or laughing maniacally, Laughton is certainly never boring. With his great film roles still ahead of him (Henry VIII, Bligh, Quasimodo), Laughton in this early role shows hints of his eventual greatness.

The rest of the cast really defer to Laughton, but they all play their parts very well, especially Dorothy Peterson as his long-suffering wife - her emotional agony as Laughton's secrets slowly dawn upon her are truly painful to watch. Maureen O'Sullivan shows spunk as their social climbing daughter; Verree Teasdale is pure poison as a French seductress.

Billy Bevan as a nosy neighbor, Halliwell Hobbes as an old fellow fascinated with crime, and young Ray Milland as Laughton's charming, tragic nephew all make their small roles memorable.

The frankly handled adultery points to the film's pre-Production Code status.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Don't let this one get away from you, an early Charles Laughton mini-masterpiece of murder and justice.

9/10
Author: larry41onEbay from Culpeper, VA
19 September 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Don't let this one get away from you, an early Charles Laughton mini-masterpiece of murder and justice.

A friend recommended I see this film `at any cost.' I would have blown it off because the rating at the time on the IMDB was below 6.5 (my limit for giving it a chance). What a surprise when my girlfriend and I finally got around to watching the tape we made off of TCM. This moody, atmospheric melodrama just started to pull us in. Pretty and oh so young Maureen O'Sullivan, craftsman Charles Laughton, dapper Ray Milland, seductress Verree Teasdale are just the attractive ingredients. It's the story, told slowly and deliberately that get you hooked. SPOILERS:

In this adaptation of Jeffrey Dell's play, Charles Laughton recreates his stage role as a seemingly meek bank clerk. To make good his debts, Laughton ingratiates himself with his wealthy Australian nephew (Ray Milland), then poisons the lad and buries the body in his garden. Using the money the nephew had on his person, Laughton invests wisely and becomes rich himself. He rapidly goes to seed, deserting his wife (Dorothy Peterson) for a "woman of the world" (Verree Teasdale) and drinking himself into unconsciousness. Laughton's distraught wife figures out the extent of her husband's crimes, and grimly arranges for Laughton to accidentally kill her-with enough circumstantial evidence planted to convict the husband of murder. Payment Deferred was a particularly vivid experience for supporting actor Ray Milland, who watched in amazement as Charles Laughton got away with some of the ripest "ham" ever seen on film.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

We All Pay In The End

6/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
17 November 2008

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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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Don't be put off by the age of this film

7/10
Author: Bucs1960 from West Virginia
17 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Charles Laughton is at his twitchy best in this early film, reprising his stage role as the bank clerk who has fallen on hard times. Unexpected money turns up in the person of Ray Milland, a long lost nephew. Milland is unwilling to lend or invest his funds with Laughton and with the help of a little arsenic, murder ensues. The remainder of the film revolves around the question as to whether Laughton will be caught out or not. The title provides the answer, as he pays but not for Milland's death.

Laughton pulls out all the stops as the unstable clerk and his acting is very eccentric but interesting. Dorothy Peterson is his put-upon wife and she is not called upon to do much except grovel and submit to Laughton's petulance and fits of rage. A very young Maureen O'Sullivan is pert and pretty as the daughter and the wonderful character actress Veree Teasdale is a treat as the phony French blackmailer who spins a web around Laughton.

The film has a stage bound look for obvious reasons with the majority of the scenes taking place in the house. The prologue, in which the landlord (Billy Bevan without his signature mustache) is showing the house to a prospective buyer (busy English actor Halliwell Hobbes), is a clever lead-in to the main action. Bevan's story of the how,who and why of the murder illustrates that not all is what it appears.

Although dated, this film is very well worth seeing for a look at an early Laughton effort, although his acting style remained pretty much the same throughout his career........edgy, a bit hammy, but thoroughly enjoyable.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

*****Possible Spoilers Ahead*****Charles Laughton as a bank clerk who almost gets away with murder...

6/10
Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
18 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What makes PAYMENT DEFERRED even more of a curiosity is that three of its stars: CHARLES LAUGHTON, MAUREEN O'SULLIVAN and RAY MILLAND would all appear about fifteen years later in THE BIG CLOCK.

Ray Milland has a small role as a debonair and wealthy man whose wealth is just what Laughton needs, since he's facing eviction unless he can make the next payment on the house he shares with DOROTHY PETERSON (his wife) and daughter MAUREEN O'SULLIVAN.

Laughton manages to poison Milland and accumulate his wealth. The plot thickens when a flirtatious blackmailer (VERREE TEASDALE) wins his affection by starting an intimate relationship while his wife and daughter are away. To tell the rest, is giving away too much of the plot.

What's really amazing is how much unadulterated "ham" Laughton is able to get away with. You can almost see Ray Milland sizing him up (with side glances) in the scene where he's about to be poisoned and probably knowing he was being outplayed by a master of the art.

The story has an ending very much in the same vein as ANOTHER MAN'S POISON--but is rather stage-bound with almost all of the action taking place on one set.

Summing up: Laughton is fascinating but there's a primitive look to the whole tale. Interesting to see a young Ray Milland in a minor role.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

great film

7/10
Author: KyleFurr2 from United States
29 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the kind of role that Charles Laughton was great in, but he was great in just about anything he did. Laughton plays a banker's assistant who is in debt to everyone and there is basically nothing he can do and his boss says he'll fire him because Laughton's reputation might hurt the bank. Then one night, out of the blue, comes in Ray Milland with a pocketful of money and Laughton tries to get him to make a deal about a tip he got about the stock market. Milland wants nothing to do with his plan so Laughton kills him with poison. Laughton then becomes rich and he and his family are on easy street. Laughton does eventually gets what is coming to him but for the murder of his wife which he didn't do. It's a great movie with a great performance by Laughton.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"If walls could talk, they might tell a different story".

7/10
Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
5 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to say I'll always enjoy a Charles Laughton movie, but you have to admit, pictures from the early days of film almost always laid it right out there for the viewer as if one couldn't put two and two together. In this case, the murder of young Medland (Ray Milland) - it's OK for the viewer to be in on the little secret, but gee, could it have been any more obvious to anyone in the Marble home to figure out what happened? A newly dug up back yard wouldn't have raised too much suspicion now would it? Or how about that great big old bottle of cyanide sitting on the book shelf in plain view, with books discussing the subject of poisoning by cyanide the only reading material in the house? You had to know that William Marble (Laughton) wasn't going to get away with this one, so the intrigue was in how the story would get you there. I think with a little more creativity, old Marble could probably have gone for a two-fer with Mrs. Collins (Verree Teasdale) if you know what I mean. Instead, poor Mrs. Marble (Dorothy Peterson) had to agonize her way through thoughts of extortion, adultery and suicide if her husband ever proved to be unfaithful. I was sad to see her go.

Probably more unbelievable to me than the whole idea of murdering his own nephew was Marble's ability to turn the boy's wallet into a fortune of thirty thousand pounds - now there was the real mystery. In every other aspect of his life, Laughton's character seemed to be a real loser, pushing his wife around and completely unbearable to his daughter Winnie (Maureen O'Sullivan). Who would have guessed that the line of BS he gave to Medland might have made them both rich.

Check this one out if you can get your hands on it; I happened to catch it on Turner Classics last night and it made for an entertaining hour and a half. There's always a good chance you'll pick up some neat trivia from one of the film hosts on Turner; like the studio being pressured to remove direct references to cyanide in case it might give ideas to potential husband/killers in the future. They certainly didn't foresee the advent of the internet a mere seventy years later, where you could learn everything you ever wanted to know to commit murder and mayhem of your very own.

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