The Lady Pays Off (1951) Poster

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7/10
Darnell delightful in rare solo starring comedic role
francisclough5 January 2008
For Linda Darnell fans, of which I am one, this little comedy from Universal studios is a refreshing surprise. One of the 1940's most consistently underrated screen brunettes, due to her phenomenal beauty she was frequently placed in roles subordinate to the leading male star she was appearing with (some of the best: Henry Fonda, Rex Harrison, Richard Widmark, Tyrone Power, George Sanders, Robert Mitchum, to name a few). Yet in all these she was always far more than merely adequate, in fact, consistently good. At the time of this movie's release Miss Darnell was at the peak of her success, having just scored two back-to-back triumphs at her home studio Twentieth-Century-Fox: A Letter to Three Wives and No Way Out. Here in this film she plays an independent professional woman at a crossroads in her life who is forced by chance to reevaluate and prioritize. Miss Darnell exudes poise and self-confidence in the role, and is clearly having fun letting the true Linda shine through. It is a shame she was not given the opportunities to do more vehicles like this one, where she was absolutely front-and-center in the storyline. Catch this hard-to-find gem, and enjoy one of the cinema's loveliest ladies truly letting her hair down and having a ball!
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4/10
The movie doesn't pay off.
seoulless19 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
McNally's not Bogie. He can play a tough guy, even a concerned father (as in this film), but is unconvincing as the romantic male lead and doesn't have much chemistry with Darnell. Which would be hard to do in any case, as Darnell's character isn't particularly likable, lovable or even believable. The writers would have us swallow the notion that this nice, respectable schoolteacher could and would con a tough, experienced casino owner into an engagement and then coldly reveal that it was all a lie, just so she could get out of a huge gambling debt. Gigi Perreau is okay as the motherless daughter who needs cheering up, but her part is devoid of any originality. Field is the lone bright spot, chewing up the scenery as an ex-flame. However, she doesn't have that big a role and can't save the film all by herself.

The plot also has several problems. It's absurd to think that someone could waltz into a Reno casino and get $7000 worth of credit (a huge amount in the '50s, or today for that matter) just by asking for chips without so much as a signature or credit check. There are also gangsters trying to muscle in on McNally's character's business, but that plot thread doesn't actually amount to much.

Overall, the film fails on just about every level.
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7/10
How could Evelyn have been Teacher of the Year?!
MartinHafer15 January 2017
When the film begins, Evelyn (Linda Darnell) is being recognized nationally at the Teach of the Year...and promptly flips out. Soon she's in Reno...gambling and trying life on the wild side. Her foray doesn't last very long and soon she's accumulated a huge debt to the casino and Matt Braddock (Stephen McNally) proposes a way for her to settle the debt. She'll become the teacher for Mr. Braddock's daughter and soon the daughter finds Evelyn to be the perfect potential mother! This scheme is derailed slightly when Ms. Stoddard shows up...and she has her sights set on Braddock!

This is a nice little romantic film--light, fun and with a cute kid to round out the picture. Not a great romance but just the bill for a date night movie.
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