The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne (2014)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Find out how a poor, single, African-American mother from segregated 1930s America winds up as one of the world's most notorious and successful jewel thieves. A glamorous 83-year-old, Doris Payne is as unapologetic today about the $2 million in jewels she's stolen over a 60-year career as she was the day she stole her first carat. With Doris now on trial for the theft of a department store diamond ring, we probe beneath her consummate smile to uncover the secrets of her trade and what drove her … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By: ,
In Theaters:
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Critic Reviews for The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (7)

There is wonderful source material here; it's easy to root for Payne's transgressions. But her story is dying for a multimillion-dollar Hollywood treatment.

Full Review… | June 20, 2014
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

As much a social and psychological study as a fascinating look at a woman who lived by her own rules.

Full Review… | June 19, 2014
Toronto Star
Top Critic

It's obvious that Pond and Marcolina can't resist the woman, any more than she can resist yet another heist.

Full Review… | May 29, 2014
New York Post
Top Critic

Payne's obvious pathology isn't probed as deeply as it should be.

Full Review… | May 28, 2014
Time Out
Top Critic

A peppy and beguiling portrait of a convict whose defiant streak of independence has a way of outshining her wrongdoing.

Full Review… | May 27, 2014
New York Times
Top Critic

Who knew that being lied to for 75 minutes could be so agreeable - and revealing?

Full Review… | May 27, 2014
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne


While it is true that the documentary "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne" is not without its share of flaws, where else are you going to have an opportunity to see a real life jewel thief talk about their life of crime? In this case, it is Doris Payne, now 84, who has been at it for decades; at first so she could help her abused mother escape a life of desperate poverty in West Virginia. As the documentary is about how we perceive others, it is ironic that Doris, who is of black and Cherokee parents, sidesteps the racism of the era in order to allow her access to high society, so she can perform her sleight of hand to subtly steal diamonds. The question remains is she still doing the same, especially considering her recent arrest after being accused of theft from a Macy's in San Diego. But then it does not help that the filmmakers get drawn in a little too closely, too intent on any possible answers to maintain proper distance.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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