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133 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PAYROLL is as hard-hitting today as it was in 1961. A true British classic!
"Brilliant! Brutal!...TORN FROM TONIGHT'S HEADLINES!", exclaimed the poster for this highly suspenseful and thrilling British crime drama from 1961. It's about the meticulously planned robbery of a £100,000 payroll from a seemingly impregnable armoured security van in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where it was filmed on location, by crooks Michael Craig (the leader); Tom Bell;...
Published on 14 Feb 2008 by Mr. David Rayner

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, annoying music
I enjoyed the film having first seen parts of it on TV when I was a child - the trucks smashing the security van, which as a child seemed quite shocking. The lack of Geordies ? Quite honestly it never crossed my mind. The lead villain seemed too decent a chap to be a vicious gangster. Mrs Pearson, the murdered security van driver's husband metamorphoses into a terminator...
Published 21 months ago by Drew


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133 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PAYROLL is as hard-hitting today as it was in 1961. A true British classic!, 14 Feb 2008
By 
Mr. David Rayner "David Rayner" (STOKE-ON-TRENT, STAFFORDSHIRE United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
"Brilliant! Brutal!...TORN FROM TONIGHT'S HEADLINES!", exclaimed the poster for this highly suspenseful and thrilling British crime drama from 1961. It's about the meticulously planned robbery of a £100,000 payroll from a seemingly impregnable armoured security van in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where it was filmed on location, by crooks Michael Craig (the leader); Tom Bell; Kenneth Griffith and Barry Keegan. The robbery goes wrong. Although the gang gets away with the money, the security van driver and one of the gang are killed. The rest of the film is concerned with the hunt for the gang by the police and the security van driver's widow (a wonderfully understated performance of a woman bent on revenge by Billie Whitelaw) and the action and tension never lets up.

French star Francoise Prevost is excellent as Katie Pearson, the embittered; selfish and self-centred wife of inside man Dennis Pearson (William Lucas), a nervous wreck if ever there was one whom you just know from the beginning is going to crack and give the game away before the film is over. In fact, Prevost is so good in the role, that she BECOMES Katie Pearson...a woman who has everything a man could want...at a price.

I went to see this film at the cinema when I was 14 in 1961 and thought it was one of the best British films of the year. The robbery is so well planned and executed that I wouldn't be surprised if some real gang of crooks had copied it sometime during the past 47 years. The film is hard-hitting and suspensefully directed in black and white by Sidney Hayers and very well acted. Reg Owen's theme music (which I still have on an old 45 rpm single on the Palette label) compliments the film superbly. I'm also lucky enough to have the film's original quad poster and Front-of-House set of eight glossy, black and white stills.

Payroll was also Michael Craig's first film role as an out and out villain and he certainly makes the most of it. As for this DVD, it is an excellent transfer of the complete film. It even has the original British Board of Film Censors "A" certificate on the beginning, which is unusual for a DVD transfer of a vintage cinema film, as well as the original Anglo Amalgamated opening title. Highly Recommended. I give it five stars.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent crime caper, 17 July 2009
By 
Baz (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
Not much to add to the previous reviews except to say that this is a well directed, well acted and certainly entertaining crime romp, made all the more watchable by the inclusion of the beautiful and elegant Francoise Prevost and a young, dazzlingly gorgeous Billie Whitelaw. Well worth the price of the DVD for just her scenes...

Initially, I had my doubts about Michael Craig in a villain role, but he does manage to give a creditable performance (would have liked to have had Connery or Stanley Baker though which would have lifted it a couple of notches higher IMHO).

I love British films from this period. Sadly, there aren't too many of them about, so we have to get what we're given. But don't listen to the sourpuss naysayers. This is one of the best from the early sixties and stands repeated viewings, so definitely one for the collection. Both film transfer and sound quality are superb, too.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Character actors, 12 April 2009
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This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
Period B-movie with lots of character. On the upside it is on the whole a well-constucted plot, although gets a bit convoluted towards the end. Strong character actors for the period, although the backstory to explain why Francoise Prevost is in the film is irrelevant to the plot and only exists to give an excuse to have the 'frisson' of a French actress on the cast list. Shot mostly in and around Newcastle upon Tyne,the script and characters are transplanted from London, there is not a Geordie voice in the whole thing, and such efforts as there are at 'regional' accents are all over the place! There are a few anachronisms - no-one in a Newcastle pub ever asked for 'a pint of wallop'- that I think is a cockney idiom. Newcastle is only the backdrop to a film which could have been shot anywhere, but the city itself is pretty photogenic and there is plenty of interest for Geordie nostalgia (better than the original Get Carter in this respect). An enjoyable bit of nostalgia for the genre.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tyneside Film Location-Years before Get Carter & Gateshead Carpark, 21 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
Entertaining bullion van robbery film. Main interest is to see the changes in Newcastle City Centre buildings and streets and its surroundings when traffic was almost non-existant. The old cars and busses look even older than the film - early 1960's. Similar to Get Carter it paints a grim grey place to live & work, compared to the superb environment Newcastle presents today.The improvements in the city have to be seen to be believed and appreciated. Well worth a look, it will bring back memories for anyone who has lived in the area for many years.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic trip through Newcastles history, 21 Mar 2009
By 
W. Mccourt (County Durham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
This film was the forerunner to the much acclaimed 'Get Carter', as in, it was set completely in & around the city of Newcastle-upon Tyne.
It tells the story of a gang of crooks who pull off 'The One' big robbery that will set them up for life, but not all runs smooth & eventually the success of the heist rests on weather or not each member can hold their individual nerve.
Gritty & gripping from start to finish with the added interest of some familiar settings in the city itself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Payroll, a look back at the past, 13 April 2009
This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
Great film, especially for the Geordies who are interested in how Newcastle looked in the 60s. Not many films made in Newcastle, Get Carter and Payroll, both worth a place in your collection
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film!, 1 Feb 2009
By 
SharonVespaGirl (Tasmania, Asutralia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this DVD on the strength of the other reviews, and it didn't disappoint. I'm keen on British films from this period, and this is an very good example. It's defintely worth the few pounds that Aamzon are asking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The kids? Haven't you heard? They're orphans., 26 Aug 2013
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
Payroll is directed by Sidney Hayers and adapted to screenplay by George Baxt from the novel written by Derek Bickerton. It stars Michael Craig, Françoise Prévost, Billie Whitelaw, William Lucas, Kenneth Griffith, Tom Bell and Barry Keegan. Music is by Reg Owen and cinematography by Ernest Steward.

A vicious gang of crooks raid an armoured van carrying the wages of the local factory. When all doesn't go to plan and the driver of the van is killed, the gang start to come apart from within, just as the police and a vengeful widow close in on them...

As tough as old boots! Out of Beaconsfield Studios, Payroll is the kind of British neo-noir that is adored by those that have seen it and yet it still remains a sleeper. Set up in the North East of England in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, there's a real sense of working class struggle pulsing through the picture. The character dynamics at work are nothing new in the history of the heist gone wrong movie, but the makers here insert two ladies into the equation and let them be prominent antagonists, and with some conviction as well. Time is afforded build up of characters, letting us into home lives and the planning of the crime, and then bam! It's the robbery and it pulls no punches.

Story is not without violence, and murders are coldly executed, and as the band of thieves begin to crack, led by ice cold scumbag Johnny Mellors (Craig), director Hayers puts them into a world of grim alleyways, terrace houses, back street pubs, sweat stained garages, marshy bogs and an imposing dockside ripe for a denouement. The mood is firmly set at fatalistic realism, and as Hayers tightens the noose around the dwindling gang of thieves, and Reg Owen's jazzy score flits around the drama (love that ominous double bass), we are led to a wholly satisfactory conclusion. Cast are great, especially the wonderful Whitelaw, and Steward's photography is crisp and on the money. 8/10

Footnote: Some scenes were filmed in Rugby, Warwickshire, so it's not exclusively on location in Newcastle. And of course as any Geordie will tell you, there's a distinct lack of Geordie accents in the picture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Solid Entertainment, 9 Sep 2012
By 
A. Roberton "Alan Roberton" (Hinckley, Leicestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
I first started going to the 'pictures' on a Saturday morning with all the other kids during the 1950's and by 1960 I was going to the big cinema on a regular basis. In the early 60's I would be going every week, it was always great and I loved the films. Especially as there would always be two feature films, the main film and the 'B' film. Although Payroll would be the main feature, it wcould easily have been a 'B' film as it seemed to follow a similar pattern. Let me explain, a lot of the 'B' films were from the 'Edgar Lustgarten presents' series, a lot of which I would enjoy as much as the main feature - they would be crime thriller types and have well known faces gracing the screen. Payroll also has that feel about it as not only do you have the mainframe actors like Michael Craig and Billie Whitelaw, but also those familiar faces such as Kenneth Griffiths and Glyn Houston.

The story of a security van robbery by a gang led by Michael Craig which goes a bit wrong and the driver of the security van gets killed. The police do the police thing, but the widow of the killed driver (Billie Whitelaw) wants revenge and decides to do a bit of investigating herself. I shall say no more, but it builds into an excellent end that will leave you feeling that crime doesn't pay.

I personally love this sort of film, with clear speech and no loud so called background music to distract. A film to watch from beginning to end without any boring bits - also a film to watch again and again, simply for the pleasure of enjoying a well acted, well directed and very much of the time film.

If you like the Edgar Lustgarten type films, then this is most definitely one to add to your collection.

Five well deserved stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent heist/neo-Noir, 22 Sep 2011
By 
R. Alberts (Netherlands, Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Payroll [DVD] (DVD)
After seeing other "heist Film-Noirs", like "Rififi" and "The Asphalt Jungle", I like "Payroll" aka "I promised to Pay" very much.
The stunning Françoise Prévost is an excellent-femme-fatale! Perfect casting. Allthough the image of the cover-art is NOT a scene from this movie. Probably a promo-shoot.

The (widescreen) DVD transfer is excellent too. No trailer however. To access the other European buyers, subtitels would have been appriciated, at least 'English for the hearing-impared'.

One questions remains, regarding the runtime: info DVD: 102 minutes; IMDB: UK 94 min., and Germany 105 min. Deleted scene(s)?

Recommended. My rating 4/5.
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Payroll [DVD]
Payroll [DVD] by Sidney Hayers (DVD - 2008)
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