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The Pay Off (1942)

The city's District Attorney is murdered, and a newspaper reporter investigates. He starts finding out that everything wasn't quite as cut and dried as it appeared to be.


Arthur Dreifuss


Edward Dein (screenplay), Arthur Hoerl (original story)

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Cast overview:
Lee Tracy ... Brad McKay
Tom Brown ... Guy Norris
Tina Thayer ... Phyllis Walker
Evelyn Brent ... Alma Dorn
Jack La Rue ... John Angus
Ian Keith ... Inspector Thomas
Robert Middlemass ... Lester Norris
John Maxwell ... Moroni
John Sheehan ... Sergeant Brenen
Harry C. Bradley ... Dr. Steele (as Harry Bradley)
Forrest Taylor ... Hugh Walker
Pat Costello Pat Costello ... Pat - Reporter


Special prosecutor Lloyd Pearson has been murdered and there is strong evidence that gambler Moroni committed the crime, but he has an air-tight alibi, spending the evening with Brad McKay, star reporter of the Chronicle. Norris, the publisher, send Brad and his son, Guy Norris, to cover the story. Brad learns that Moroni did commit the murder, but has no way to prove it. Moroni tells Brad that the murdered prosecutor was getting a payoff, and was killed by his assistant Hugh Walker following a quarrel. John Angus, proprietor of the Hi Lo Club, tells Moroni that Brad suspects him. Phyllis Walker tells Brad that her father is in danger from Moroni. Hugh Walker has given her a key to the public locker where some money is hidden. That night, Brad finds Moroni dead. He realizes there is a higher-up that had Moroni kill Pearson, and then has had Moroni killed. He learns that Walker has been kidnapped, but secures the money from the locker and hides it in his apartment. He meets Alma Dorne ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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HE'S BACK AGAIN... The Fastest talking newshawk in his greatest role! See more »


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Release Date:

24 November 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Danaro e sangue See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Jack Schwarz Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

A decent but average Poverty Row programmer
2 March 2016 | by XhcnoirXSee all my reviews

Hot-shot newspaper reporter Lee Tracy is involved in a poker game when a prosecutor is murdered. Tracy was reporting on the DA's latest investigation, so he's called in for help. Instead he has to clear the prime suspect, John Maxwell, because he was also part of the poker game when the murder happened. Maxwell tells Tracy to look into the prosecutor's assistant Forrest Taylor, as he was on the take. Soon after Tracy meets Taylor's daughter Tina Thayer, and Maxwell ends up dead in Tracy's apartment. Tracy and Taylor need to find out the truth soon before more people end up dead, being targeted themselves as well by Maxwell's partner, casino owner Jack La Rue.

A mystery/crime programmer done at PRC, the plot is overly complex and convoluted, and relies too much on conveniences and plot holes. But it also uses a most effective means to deal with this, it moves at a quick pace, so there's little room to think about the previous scene, as the current scene demands attention.

Lee Tracy ('High Tide', TV's 'Martin Kane') was once a big name, but in the 40s he was a has-been, and relegated to these low-budget features. His talent for fast & sharp talking works well here, as it fits the character perfectly. Tina Thayer is also quite decent as the demure but determined daughter who wants to find out the truth about her father. She went into a different career, ending her short acting career. Jack La Rue ('The Story Of Temple Drake') also had a decent career in the 30s before losing steam. These has-been actors were a gift for the poverty row studios tho, as they offered decent acting skills and somewhat recognizable names.

While IMDb classifies this movie as film noir, it is only remotely noir-ish. It is a much more straight-forward crime/mystery that also lacks the noir visuals. Director Arthur Dreifuss (a couple of Boston Blackie movies) does what needs to be done to get the story onto film and DoP Ira Morgan (lensing such classics as 'Criminal Investigator' and 'Sensation Hunters' aka 'Club Paradise') manages to sneak in a few decent shots, but all in all they handled the material as routinely as possible. Given it's a PRC production and they probably had no budget or time to experiment with setups, they can hardly be blamed. It's decent enough, but then again I am partial to these movies. 6-/10

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