A vicious gang of crooks plan to steal the wages of a local factory, but their carefully laid plans go wrong, when the factory employs an armoured van to carry the cash. The gang still go ...
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A vicious gang of crooks plan to steal the wages of a local factory, but their carefully laid plans go wrong, when the factory employs an armoured van to carry the cash. The gang still go ahead with the robbery, but when the driver of the armoured van is killed in the raid, his wife plans revenge, and with the police closing in, the gang start to turn on each other. Written by
Payroll is directed by Sidney Hayers and adapted to screenplay by George Baxt from the novel written by Derek Bickerton. It stars Michael Craig, Françoise Prévost, Billie Whitelaw, William Lucas, Kenneth Griffith, Tom Bell and Barry Keegan. Music is by Reg Owen and cinematography by Ernest Steward.
A vicious gang of crooks raid an armoured van carrying the wages of the local factory. When all doesn't go to plan and the driver of the van is killed, the gang start to come apart from within, just as the police and a vengeful widow close in on them...
As tough as old boots! Out of Beaconsfield Studios, Payroll is the kind of British neo-noir that is adored by those that have seen it and yet it still remains a sleeper. Set up in the North East of England in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, there's a real sense of working class struggle pulsing through the picture. The character dynamics at work are nothing new in the history of the heist gone wrong movie, but the makers here insert two ladies into the equation and let them be prominent antagonists, and with some conviction as well. Time is afforded build up of characters, letting us into home lives and the planning of the crime, and then bam! It's the robbery and it pulls no punches.
Story is not without violence, and murders are coldly executed, and as the band of thieves begin to crack, led by ice cold scumbag Johnny Mellors (Craig), director Hayers puts them into a world of grim alleyways, terrace houses, back street pubs, sweat stained garages, marshy bogs and an imposing dockside ripe for a denouement. The mood is firmly set at fatalistic realism, and as Hayers tightens the noose around the dwindling gang of thieves, and Reg Owen's jazzy score flits around the drama (love that ominous double bass), we are led to a wholly satisfactory conclusion. Cast are great, especially the wonderful Whitelaw, and Steward's photography is crisp and on the money. 8/10
Footnote: Some scenes were filmed in Rugby, Warwickshire, so it's not exclusively on location in Newcastle. And of course as any Geordie will tell you, there's a distinct lack of Geordie accents in the picture.
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