Monday, January 24, 2011

Paid (1930)

Paid is a solid entry in Joan Crawford's early talkie dramas. In fact, it was her first major dramatic role - it gives her a wide range of emotions to display in a role originally meant for Norma Shearer (who, instead, was on maternity leave).

Based on the play, "Within the Law", Paid has Crawford portraying a destitute worker sent to prison for a crime she didn't commit. After studying law during imprisonment, she's released ready for revenge on the boss who charged her in court, the legal system and just about the entire world!

Paid starts stong, then becomes vaguely unconvincing (Joan's Mary Turner becomes the virtual head of a criminal gang in just a few short scenes) and finally culminates in an odd, stage-bound act taking place in a police department. It has some very dated acting and those charmingly bizarre editing choices found in the earliest MGM talkies.
Even so, Crawford is worth watching throughout the entire film and, despite the film's faults - bottom line - you want to know what happens next.

Paid also stars Marie Prevost as Crawford's floozy partner in crime, Robert Armstrong as the gang boss Crawford tries to protect, Douglas Montgomery as the boss' son and a coterie of MGM character actors playing criminals, victims and policemen.

A five minute prison shower fight scene was shot but deleted before the film was released. Some stills from the scene exist.

The film was originally made in 1923 as Within the Law, starring Norma Talmadge and Lew Cody and was made again with the same name in 1939, starring Ruth Hussey and Tom Neal.

Paid has been released on Time Warner Archives DVD-R and has also been broadcast on Turner Classic Movies.

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