Above: ""Paid" was my first really heavy dramatic role, and I did a good job, a damned good job..." - Joan Crawford
Cast: Joan Crawford (as Mary Turner), Robert Armstrong, Marie Prevost, Kent Douglass aka Douglass Montgomery, John Miljan,
Hale Hamilton, Purnell Pratt aka Purnell B. Pratt, Polly Moran, Robert Emmett O'Connor, Tyrell Davis, William Bakewell, George
Cooper, Gwen Lee,
Mary Turner (Joan), a shopgirl, is sentenced to a 3-year prison term for a crime she did not commit, and she declares in the
courtroom that she will someday even the score for the way in which she has been treated by the law. After serving her term,
she becomes associated with three criminals: Joe Garson (Robert Armstrong), Agnes Lynch (Marie Prevost), and Red (George Cooper),
with whom she instigates numerous activities bordering on embezzlement, blackmail, and larceny, but which are always within
There were three previous versions of "Paid" - 1916, 1917 and 1923, however all were entitled, Within the Law. In
1939 there was a remake of the 1930 version, this time starring Ruth Hussey in Joan's role. It was also entitled, "Within
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Reviewer, writerdonna7, says...
"Paid" is a creaky, but interesting early talkie starring Joan Crawford as Mary Turner, a young woman wrongfully
convicted of theft who upon her release, seeks revenge upon those responsible for her imprisonment. Having achieved wild popularity
only two years earlier as a flapper in "Our Dancing Daughters" and not yet typecast into the "shopgirl-makes-good"
formula that would become her milieu in the 30's, Crawford is uncharacteristically non-glamorous for a substantial part of
her screen time and has a fascinating, almost feral look at times, reflecting her tribulations in prison. Life in the pen,
in fact, is depicted with surprising grittiness with scenes of communal showers, mug shots, bad food, tough prison wardens,
and hair-shearing. It's not pretty.
"Paid" is an early talking film (her 5th) for star Joan Crawford. The film is an important one for her since it's
a straight drama and signals an end of her "Dancing Daughter" days. Up until that point Joan appeared in much lighter
fare singing or dancing and maybe falling in love. This particular film changed all of that -- just in time, too, since the
depression was just beginning and audiences were tiring of musicals. In 1930 the number 1 box office star in the U.S. was
Joan Crawford -- "Paid" is one reason why.
TV Guide said: "Studio chief Thalberg's wife was scheduled to play in this adaptation of the successful play, but, when
she became pregnant, Crawford talked him into letting her have the role. Filmed as a silent in 1917 with Alice Joyce, then
again with Norma Talmadge in 1923 (both with the original title of WITHIN THE LAW), this talkie version was an improvement
due mainly to Crawford's dynamic presence. Crawford is a department store employee who is sent to prison for a crime she did
not commit. Her sentence is three years, and she meets inmates Prevost and Moran as she plots vengeance on the District Attorney
who prosecuted her, Hamilton, and the wealthy store owner, Pratt, who testified mistakenly against her. After Crawford's release,
Prevost takes her to meet Armstrong, a successful crook. Armstrong and his strongarm aides have some crimes in mind, but Crawford,
fresh out of jail, thinks there may be safer ways to make some money than engaging in illegal activities. Crawford and Prevost
get ancient, lonely and rich men to write them love letters, then take legal action for "breach of promise" and
collect large sums under the guise of "heart balm," which was a popular trick in those days. The plot pays off and
Crawford is riding high, but her dreams of revenge are not forgotten. She meets Pratt's son, Montgomery, and gets him to fall
for her. They get married without Pratt's knowledge. Meanwhile, the cops, led by Miljan, spread the word that the "Mona
Lisa" is not in Paris. Rather, it is secretly reposing in Pratt's mansion. This is a ruse to bring out Armstrong and
entrap him into robbing the house where the law will be waiting. At the same time, Crawford is actually falling in love with
her own husband. Armstrong leads his men in the robbery by tying up electrical company workers and wearing their uniforms.
The cops nab the crooks and get the truth out of them. Crawford, who was not part of the scheme, is happy that she wasn't
and decides that enough is enough. She has her revenge as well as a husband she adores. Some good suspense during the robbery
and a crackerjack job by Crawford as she goes from a soft woman to a tough cookie then back to sweet as sugar again."
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