Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Stephen McNally and Linda Darnell
THE LADY PAYS OFF (1951). Director: Douglas Sirk.

Evelyn Warren (Linda Darnell), an unmarried teacher who's sick of the men who want her just to be a mother to their children, has just won a "Teacher of the Year" award. She goes off to Nevada for a vacation and tries her hand at gambling, not realizing that the chips she's playing with are each worth $100 instead of a buck. Before long she's in the hole for $7000! Fortunately, the manager, Matt Braddock (Stephen McNally) offers her a chance to pay the money off by temporarily becoming a companion and tutor to his young daughter, Diana (Gigi Perreau). But still Evelyn won't let go of her dislike for Matthew, although things may be percolating behind her unpleasant demeanor. The Lady Pays Off is a contrived comedy-drama with good performances from the three leads, as well as good support from Ann Codee as the housekeeper, Virginia Field [Dial 1119] as Matt's old girlfriend, Kay, and especially Nestor Paiva [Mr. Reckless], who is a riot as a crazy captain of a fishing boat. The ending is completely unconvincing. McNally also played a pit boss in the superior The Lady Gambles with Barbara Stanwyck.

Verdict: Easy to take if instantly forgettable. **1/2.

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