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MICHAEL CRAIG KILLING IT FOR 'PAYROLL' AKA 'I PROMISED TO PAY'

Originally titled PAYROLL Year: 1961 Rates: ***1/2

Early example of girl power encroaching a manly action flick, or more like widow power in that Billie Whitelaw only initially seems the docile suburban wife/mother, married to the literally driven creator of an armored vehicle — whose invention thwarts a gang's plan to rob a factory safe, now mobile...

But the equally driven and dangerous Michael Craig (contrasting to the heroic MYSTERIOUS ISLAND role) is hell-bent on the blag going down... 

And like the likely inspiration of Richard Fleischer's ARMORED CAR ROBBERY, there are four crooks and one of their wives is smitten with the vicious leader...

Making for a racy romance between killer Craig and French beauty Françoise Prévost, married to inside man William Lucas, one of the plan's two guilt-ridden weak links along with nebbish Kenneth Griffith, who, unlike the frantic/paranoid Lucas, doesn't really belong here (as an actor or character)... 

Leaving the best for last in wild card Tom Bell, starting a career of edgy, argumentative, irritated young thugs and, like in another British heist thriller, A PRIZE OF ARMS, he even blindly rebels against the smarter, much stronger criminal boss: Their tension setting the unpredictable mood far more capably than widow Whitelaw, whose vengeful trail is not only contrived but sometimes laughably convenient... Morphing the sparse Noir-suited title of PAYROLL into I PROMISED TO PAY, sounding more Harlequin than Hardboiled.

Michael Craig and Françoise Prévost in PAYROLL
Michael Craig and Françoise Prévost in PAYROLL
Michael Craig, Tom Bell and Kenneth Griffith in PAYROLL
Billie Whitelaw in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
William Lucas in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
Tom Bell in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
Michael Craig, Barry Keegan, Kenneth Griffith and Tom Bell in PAYROLL
Tom Bell in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
Michael Craig, Barry Keegan, Kenneth Griffith and Tom Bell in PAYROLL
Michael Craig and Billie Whitelaw in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
Billie Whitelaw in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
Tom Bell in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
Tom Bell fourteen long years later in ROYAL FLASH
Tom Bell in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
Volkswagen Bus in the actual title of PAYROLL
The real title PAY ROLL with a Volkswagen Van from 1960
Françoise Prévost in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
Françoise Prévost in PAYROLL aka I PROMISED TO PAY
Cutie starlet PAULINE SHEPERD in PAYROLL
The usually villainous and tough William Lucas plays nerd in PAYROLL
William Lucas foreshadows the Kray biopic Tom Hardy here in PAYROLL
Pauline Sheperd interrupts a paper-stealing/copying William Lucas in PAYROLL

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