The Pay Off (1930)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Pay Off Photos

Movie Info

Exercising his usual creative prerogative, Lowell Sherman was both star and director of RKO's The Pay Off. Sherman plays Gene Fenmore, a jaded gangster boss who falls in love with innocent young Nancy Porter (Marian Nixon). When Nancy's sweetheart Tommy Brown (William Janney) faces execution for a crime he didn't commit, Gene's first impulse is to let the boy fry so that he can have a clear field with the heroine. Ultimately, however, Gene proves he's a decent sort by clearing Tommy and philosophically keeping that date with the electric chair himself. Released in Great Britain as The Losing Game, The Pay-Off was remade in 1938 as Law of the Underworld, with Chester Morris in the old Lowell Sherman role.
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
RKO Radio Pictures


Lowell Sherman
as Gene Fenmore
Marian Nixon
as Nancy Porter
William Janney
as Tommy Brown
Hugh Trevor
as Rocky Mosby
Helene Millard
as Dot Palmer
Robert McWade
as Frank Smiley
Alan Roscoe
as District Attorney
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Pay Off

There are no critic reviews yet for The Pay Off. Keep checking Rotten Tomatoes for updates!

Audience Reviews for The Pay Off

6.5/10. Very good crime drama, the acting is just fair, but the story is a good one and the direction is well done.

James Higgins
James Higgins

When gentleman thief Gene Fenmore (Sherman) discovers a member of his gang (Trevor) mugged a young couple (Nixon and Janney) of their life's savings, he adopts the love-birds and severely chastizes the crook, Rocky. When Rocky is later shot, Gene is put on a collision course with both the underworld and the law. Gene Fenmore, the main character of "The Pay-Off" is that most improbable--yet ever-popular type of fictional character... the intelligent criminal mastermind, the thief who steals only from the rich, tries to give back to community he came from, and who has a set of strong ethics and morals that he lives by. To top it off, he wants to leave his life of crime behind and go straight. With the ethical gentleman thief, we must also have his unscrupulous counterpart, the violent thug who can never have enough and who wants to get the loot in the most brutal way possible. Rocky fills this role in the story, a far more believable criminal, and a great villian for the tale. If you've seen one other "honorable crook wants to quit the game"-type film, you won't find anything new here, except perhaps the typical young turk the honorable thief ends up saving isn't someone hoping to embark on a life of crime, but just a desperate pair of everyday young people. There's nothing offensively bad here, and if you like early talkies, you'll find this movie entertaining enough. That said, I think a far more important reason to see this film is for the performance given Lowell Sherman. For a fellow who started his career in silent movies, he adapted very well to talkies, and I'm surprised he's as forgotten as he is. His acting style in "The Pay-Off" was amazingly modern and naturalistic, even if his make-up is that of a slient movie actor and he still has a tendency to strike overly expressive poses, and he truly stands out among the stagey, stiff, and hammy performances all around him. In fact, Lowell's performance is generally so natural that it would be more than a decade before it starts becoming a typical thing in movies. The Pay-Off (aka "Losing Game") Starring: Lowell Sherman, Hugh Trevor, Marian Nixon, and William Janney Director: Lowell Sherman

Steve Miller
Steve Miller

The Pay Off Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Pay Off on our Movie forum!

News & Features