PAID (1930)

The subversive world of pre-code Hollywood continues to delight.  Each studio had a formula and star that was put into dastardly situations, usually coming out on top or with a new moral fiber.  The pleasure comes from seeing how these  film makers were blatant with their language, actions, and  predicaments.   Sam Wood  delivers a punchy story in PAID (1930), with Joan Crawford burning up the screen.

The plot of PAID (1930) is pretty much a woman, Mary Turner (Joan Crawford), who  takes  revenge on the family of the attorney, Edward Gilder (Purnell Pratt), who sent her to prison.  Mary takes  revenge by  getting the  attorney’s son, Bob Gilder, (Douglas Montgomery) to fall in love with and marry her.  Turner tells him in triumph that ,” You took my name and gave me a number.  Now I took your name.”   In  a film noir style twist, the fates conspire and murder is committed for cash.  Turner is interrogated  with light bulbs blazing in her  eyes and men clustering around her, blasting questions and  accusations.

Robert Armstrong plays bad guy with a heart of gold Joe Garson in the picture.  Garson brought  Turner to his home, yet does not go through with her staying the night as he finds she really isn’t that type. He sends her home with a loan to help.   Garson pops in and out of the story as he  is really in love with Mary Turner and pays a strong price for  his affection.



Joan is wonderfully , if not stylistically,  venomous  in this  picture.  She is all  flashing dark lined eyes and clipped speech when executing her plan.  The hair and  wardrobe is first rate with changes from foppish poor clothes and hats to longer hair, even in prison to full blown art deco glamour which Joan wears  well.



PAID (1930) has  some wonderful supporting roles by  female actors such as Marie Provost, born Marie Bickford Dunn in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, and an uncredited Polly Moran.

Provost is wonderful as the scheming Agnes Lynch,  especially when she dresses up as a “little  girl,” with the intent to show she is underage and being taken advantage of by an older millionaire.  Mary Turner and Agnes spin a  terrible yarn for the fellow and his lawyer resulting in a  pay off settlement.

Polly Moran was one of the funniest comediennes of silent  film  under Mack Sennett.   Moran was paired by chance on screen with Marie Dressler.  They made  eight films together as a man chasing, scene stealing  pair for MGM.

The coming of sound did not do what it should have  for Polly Moran as she  survived  in servant and dowager  roles.  She  got to shine once again in a role in ADAMS RIB (1949) . Yet it was not enough. Polly Moran passed  in 1952 due to heart troubles.

PAID (1930) film also has a delightfully subversive, although brief moment with Louise Beavers as a fellow convict  exchanging words with Mary Turner  in the prison shower.

Sam Wood uses camera movement and good roof top sequences. This was surprising since  this is a 1930 film. Films of that era were  usually static due to cumbersome camera size and  sound  recording gear.

PAID (1930) entertains for it  86 minutes of  brisk action and  dialogue.   Joan Crawford and others deliver a story of  woman gone wrong with style.    Solid entertainment with a moral that all these pictures had in the end. The picture is considered by some as  film noir. I disagree, as that cycle  was to begin later  1945.   Well worth your time for a early talking picture.



2 thoughts on “PAID (1930)

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  1. Wonderful article! 😊 I just ordered this film and have been looking forward to seeing it for some time. It really looks like there is a lot of pre-Code goodness! This also seems to be quite a grittier role for Joan.

    1. Much thanks for the kinds words. Enjoy PAID when you receive it. Hope it is a good print and not cut down. I believe some remove the the Louise Beavers shower scene.

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