Billie Whitelaw stars in this dramatic and very well made British Crime film. Optimum UK R2 DVD.
Newcastle a group of criminals have been planning for some time to
steal the payroll of a large company that is conveyed every week from
the bank to the offices. However the company have decided to hire in a
security firm to make the trip in future and the gang are forced to
re-consider. They decide to still go ahead with the plan and hatch an
audacious plan to attack the armoured van with two heavy lorries. The
attack comes off but not without incident, and the widow of one of the
security guards vows to seek her revenge on the robbers...
by George Baxt, Payroll is a pretty typical heist movie storyline - the
build-up and planning, the execution, the hiding/tracking down of the
criminals. Fortunately it is in the details that this film excels. The
opening is rather confusing with an array of similar looking characters
making it hard to tell exactly what is going on, however the
characterisation soon starts to build up, on both sides of the law, so
that by the time the atttack takes place we really know all of those
involved. The aftermath avoids the usual clichés and the film builds to
an effective climax with several unexpected turns along the route. The
script follows the social realist trend of the 1960s so all of the
characters are normal working men (and their wives) and all presented
in a very realistic manner - no good and evil - and it is this that
really makes the events more shocking - particularly the attack on the
truck. Despite concerns however, the film does avoid wallowing in
sentementality after the deaths and the sequence is presented with
almost heartwrenching understatement. Unusually, the police proceedurals
are kept to an absolute minimum and throughout the film the police are
very minor characters.
Director Sidney Hayers directs Payroll
solidly - there is some genuine tension early of with the theft of
documents from an office and the build up to the attack is very well
helmed, really leaving you on the edge of your seats. The attack on the
truck is an incredible sequence with genuinely shocking violence and
sound that contrasts with the otherwise very quiet opening part of the
fillm - certainly one of the highlights of the film, it ranks among the
best such sequences in all of crime cinema. A later alley fight is also
well shot. The real Newcastle
locations add some great authenticity and the film is really boosted by
a minimalist soundtrack.
actor Michael Craig is top billed, it is Billie Whitelaw who really
steals the show as the vengeful Jackie with an superb performance that
fits perfectly with the understated script. Michael Craig himself is
certainly not bad in the role and there are solid performances all
round, with a selection of familiar character actors.
the most original crime story, but very well executed, solidly
written and boasting a fantastic lead performance, Payroll is a solid example of the 1960s social-realist
Brit-crime films and comes recommended to all fans of the genre as well as
being a good place for newcomers.
famous in it?
No-one particularly well known.
Directed by anyone
Sidney Hayers - best known for helming the British horror films Circus of Horrors (1960) and Night of the Eagle (1962) he went on to do a lot of television work in the 1970s.
Any gore or violence ?
A few violent sequences and some blood.
Who is it for?
Recommended to fans of British Cinema and 1960s crime films.
Aspect Ratio - 1.66:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Black and White.
The film is strong visually, with minimal print damage, good detail and only light grain.
Original English mono - sounds good.
(UK, Europe) - PAL
Not otherwise available on DVD.
The film is believed to be fully uncut. English language print.
A vividly brutal attack is the highlight of this strong British Crime film that comes recommended.
A fine print, although sadly completely lacking in extras.