Payroll (film)

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Payroll FilmPoster.jpeg
UK movie poster
Directed by Sidney Hayers
Produced by Norman Priggen
Julian Wintle
Written by George Baxt (screenplay)
Derek Bickerton (novel)
Starring Michael Craig
Françoise Prévost
Billie Whitelaw
Music by Reg Owen
Cinematography Ernest Steward
Editing by Tristam Cones
Release dates 1961
Running time 102 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Payroll is a 1961 British crime thriller starring Michael Craig, and based on the novel by Derek Bickerton. The story is about a gang of villains that stage a wages robbery, which turns into a disaster. Most of the film was shot on location in and around Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne. In the US, the film is known as I Promised to Pay.


Four crooks (Johnny Mellors, Monty, Blackie and Bert) plan and execute a robbery on a payroll van, using the inside knowledge of Dennis Pearson, who works as an accountant at the firm. Pearson is under pressure to support his wife Katie (Françoise Prévost) who demands a higher standard of living. However the van driver, Harry Parker, is killed during the heist, whilst Bert is fatally wounded by Parker's colleague Frank Moore, who opens fire as the gang open the back door of the van. They manage to get away with £100,000.

Parker's widow Jackie (Billie Whitelaw), decides to take matters into her own hands, and finds out that Pearson was the 'inside man'. She finds him by ringing all the Pearsons in the phone directory until she locates him, and then starts posting threatening letters to him.

Katie however in the meantime has become involved with Johnny, hoping to get some of the money for herself. As the gang start to argue amongst themselves, they are pursued by both Katie and Jackie. The film's climax takes place in Norfolk, with Johnny and Katie double-crossing each other and Jackie tracking Johnny in her bid for revenge.

Payroll was relatively unusual for the time in being shot on location in Newcastle.


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