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Payment on Demand (1951)

Approved | | Drama | 3 February 1951 (USA)
The film is about divorce but with flashbacks as to why divorce occurs.

Director:

Curtis Bernhardt
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Joyce Ramsey
Barry Sullivan ... David Ramsey
Jane Cowl ... Mrs. Hedges
Kent Taylor ... Robert Townsend
Betty Lynn ... Martha
John Sutton ... Tunliffe
Frances Dee ... Eileen Benson
Peggie Castle ... Diana
Otto Kruger ... Prescott
Walter Sande ... Swanson
Brett King Brett King ... Phil Polanski
Richard Anderson ... Jim
Natalie Schafer ... Mrs. Blanton
Katherine Emery ... Mrs. Gates
Lisa Golm ... Molly
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Storyline

Well-to-do Joyce Ramsey is the dominant and domineering force in her household comprised of her lawyer husband David Ramsey, their young adult daughter Diana Ramsey and their late teenaged daughter Martha Ramsey. Everything Joyce has done in the course of her marriage to David has been in the pursuit of wealth, prestige, comfort and security for her and the family, which belies her and David's humble beginnings. Their current wealth and status began with a white lie told by Joyce to one of David's potential clients when David was still struggling as a lawyer, that lie which had the consequence of Joyce, and by association David, stepping on the back of a friend as they climbed the social ladder, Joyce never to look back after this and subsequent such actions. Joyce has no real idea of how her actions have negatively affected David's feelings for her, Joyce who is blindsided when David asks her for a divorce in no longer loving her. As such, Joyce has no idea why David wants the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He strayed and he paid . . She saw to that! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was made before Bette Davis' comeback film, All About Eve (1950), but wasn't released until the year after. See more »

Goofs

When Joyce meets with Mr Prescott's he is smoking a cigarette. When he moves to the front of his desk, he offers Joyce one and lights one for himself! You can actually see his first cigarette still smoking behind him. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Edna Blanton: It's a man's world. They get everything out of it. I've told Fred hundreds of times, I'd never divorce him. No matter what he did, he couldn't make me divorce him. I'm his wife till death do us part - and I'm very healthy!
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Connections

Featured in Stardust: The Bette Davis Story (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

A Woman's Intuition
(uncredited)
Music by Victor Young
Lyrics by Ned Washington
Sung by Bette Davis
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User Reviews

 
Divorce story somewhat ahead of its time
4 June 2011 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

When I was a kid, the next door neighbor was "divorced." You would have thought she was the town hooker. People just did not get divorced in the '50s.

Taken with that framework, 1951's "Payment on Demand" is quite interesting. The Ramseys, David and Joyce (Barry Sullivan and Bette Davis), have been married for about 21 years and have two daughters (Betty Lynn and Peggie Castle). One day, a grumpy David comes home and announces that he wants a divorce. Joyce is shocked, though she really shouldn't be. She and her husband have widely divergent values. She's an ambitious, social-climbing, greedy bitch, and he wanted to have a practice with his partner Robert (Kent Taylor) and live on a farm. The life she has driven him into has made him miserable.

In flashback, Joyce reviews their young love and early marriage, during which she manages to steer a lucrative client her husband's way -- and away from his partner Robert. When Robert finds out, an important friendship ends. When Joyce gives birth to their second child, David informs her that they're moving to San Francisco so he can work with his client's new business, and he'd like to buy a farm outside the city. Joyce may be weak from childbirth, but she manages to gather enough strength to make a scene. From there, she manages to get in with the society crowd, even though her husband tells her he doesn't like "snooty people." And on it goes.

The couple separate; Joyce finds out David is seeing someone and uses it to get an enormous settlement with the threat that she'll ruin the woman's reputation. Then she goes on a cruise and learns something. Loneliness isn't fun.

This is a somewhat old-fashioned look at divorce, focusing on loneliness and the misery of not having a man instead of a woman building a new life for herself and enjoying a sense of freedom. There's a lot of warning about what happens to older women. While some of that has truth to it, the script doesn't allow that there's anything in life that will bring happiness except marriage or companionship.

"Payment on Demand" offers Bette Davis a somewhat typical role as a controlling, difficult woman with shallow values, but one who learns a few lessons along the way. She's excellent. Jane Cowl, who had passed away by the time this film was released, is Mrs. Hedges, an older woman with a young "protege" - she's very good. Barry Sullivan is the long-suffering husband; he always worked well with these strong actresses, and he hands in a sympathetic performance here. John Sutton is a man Joyce meets on a cruise, and he's appropriately elegant.

Good film probably not appreciated today because we're so used to divorce, settlements, and infidelity. For the average person, this was big stuff in the '50s, when my mother's generation was just getting married and beginning their families.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

3 February 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Story of a Divorce See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Gwenaud Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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