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.
|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)
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, while Bert is fatally wounded by Parker's colleague Frank Moore. Nevertheless, the gang manages to get away with £50,000.
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 starts 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 Dunston
- 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
- Mary Laura Wood as Mrs Murdock
- Pauline Shepherd as Secretary
- Paddy Edwards as Beryl
- Meadows White as Strange
- Michael Barrington as Hay
- Anthony Bate as Detective (uncredited)
- Anita Sharp-Bolster as Landlady (uncredited)
The film's working title was I Promise to Pay. 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 Whitley Bay, Rugby and Southwold; after location work was complete, the film began studio shooting at Beaconsfield Studios on 10 October 1960.
Michael Craig was loaned from Rank. Of Hayers he said "I think he'd learned 'directing' from a manual".
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.
- Bill Edwards, 'Production', Kinematograph Weekly vol 521 no 2767, 13 October 1960
- Craig, Michael (2005). The Smallest Giant: An Actor's Life. Allen and Unwin. p. 96.
- F. Maurice Speed, Film Review 1961-62, Macdonald & Co 1961
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)