UK movie poster
|Directed by||Sidney Hayers|
|Produced by||Norman Priggen
|Written by||George Baxt (screenplay)
Derek Bickerton (novel)
|Music by||Reg Owen|
|Edited by||Tristam Cones|
|Distributed by||Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors (UK)|
|20 April 1961 (London West End)
21 May 1961 (UK general release)
Payroll is a 1961 British neo noir crime thriller starring Michael Craig and Françoise Prévost. Directed by Sidney Hayers, it was based by screenwriter George Baxt on a novel by Derek Bickerton. The story is about a gang of villains who stage a wages robbery that goes disastrously wrong.
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 concerned. 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. Nevertheless, the gang manage to get away with £100,000.
Having found out that Pearson was the 'inside man', Parker's widow Jackie (Billie Whitelaw) starts posting threatening letters to him. Katie 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 climax takes place in Norfolk, with Johnny and Katie double-crossing each other and Jackie tracking Johnny in her bid for revenge.
- Michael Craig as Johnny Mellors
- Françoise Prévost as Katie Pearson
- Billie Whitelaw as Jackie Parker
- William Lucas as Dennis Pearson
- Kenneth Griffith as Monty
- Tom Bell as Blackie
- Barry Keegan as Bert Langridge
- Edward Cast as Detective Sergeant Bradden
- Andrew Faulds as Detective Inspector Carberry
- William Peacock as Harry Parker
- Glyn Houston as Frank Moore
- Joan Rice as Madge Moore
- Vanda Godsell as Doll
- Stanley Meadows as Bowen
- Brian McDermott as Brent
- Hugh Morton as Mr John
- Keith Faulkner as Alf
- Bruce Beeby as Worth
- Murray Evans as Billy
- Kevin Bennett as Archie Murdock
- Michael Barrington as Hay (uncredited)
- Anthony Bate as Detective (uncredited)
- Anita Sharp-Bolster as Landlady (uncredited)
Production and release
The film's working title was I Promise to Pay and much of it was shot on location in and around Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne, an unusual procedure at the time. Other scenes were shot in Rugby and Southwold, and after location work was complete the film began studio shooting at Beaconsfield Studios on 10 October 1960. The film opened at the Plaza cinema in London's West End on 20 April 1961 and went into general release in the UK on 21 May 1961.
The song "It Happens Every Day" sung in a nightclub scene in the film by Eddie Ellis was composed by Tony Osborne and Norman Newell and released as a 45 rpm single on the Parlophone label (R. 4749).
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