Monday, November 17, 2008

Payment Deferred

Charles Laughton is TCM's Star of the Month for November, and his movies are showing up on TCM every Monday night in prime time. Tonight's lineup of Laughton films begins with a particularly obscure movie: Payment Deferred, at 8:00 PM ET.

Laughton stars as the father of a British family in a bit of a financial pinch. One day, into the family's lives walks a distant cousin returning from Australia with a tidy sum of money. Nobody knows he's stopped in to see them, and since this was 1932, it would take a long time for anybody to discover that this young man is missing, or for news to get back to Australia about it. So, Laughton decides to kill the young man and take his money. Problem solved!

Not really, of course. As in Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, there's the slight matter of conscience. Laughton has buried the victim in the back yard, and realizes that if he sells the house, the new owners will eventually dig in the back yard for some reason -- if only to plant a garden -- and find the dead body. Once again, crime does not pay.

Laughton is good as always, and we're interested in his character even though his this time it's a bad man. It's completely Laughton's movie, but the rest of the cast isn't bad, either. A young Maureen O'Sullivan plays Laughton's daughter, and as for the murder victim? That's a young Ray Milland.

Payment Deferred isn't available on DVD, and I belive this is the first time it's aired on TCM since Ray Milland was part of Summer Under the Stars in August of 2005. So you'd better catch this little gem tonight.

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