The Pay Off (1930)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
The Pay Off Photos
as Gene Fenmore
as Nancy Porter
as Tommy Brown
as Rocky Mosby
as Dot Palmer
as Frank Smiley
as District Attorney
Critic Reviews for The Pay Off
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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.
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
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