Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Payment on Demand (1951)

“Life has stones as well as flowers.

                I am just going to start off by saying Payment on Demand was not my kind of film. I was a bit bored with the plot. Bette Davis plays Joyce Ramsey a very controlling, social climbing woman. Her husband David comes home one night all flustered and tells her that he wants a divorce. Joyce cannot imagine why David would want a divorce but as she starts to flashback through her early years with him we can see the buildup.
            Joyce wanted David to be someone in society. When they were first married David ran a law firm  in a small town with his friend Robert. A man came in looking for someone to be his lawyer in starting a corporation. He was looking for Robert but Joyce working at the desk told him that David would be the one to help. In front of Robert a while later the man told David that if his wife had not suggested him he would have been working with Robert instead. Neither lawyer knew that she had done this and caused a riff between David and Robert. After their second daughter was born David said he wanted to move to the country and open his own firm with Robert. Joyce freaked out yelling at David that she did not want to move out to the middle of nowhere. A few years later Joyce gets them invited to a party with the upper parts of society. The lady holding the party tells Joyce that she is a ruthless woman like herself. There are a few more flashbacks that reveal David’s motives for seeking a divorce.
            At lunch with some of her “friends” one day they tell her they have seen David with another woman. She has a detective follow him and snaps a pictures of David with a woman named Eileen Benson. Joyce uses this to blackmail David when they divorce into giving her more money and other things. He does not want to drag Eileen’s name down and ruin her career at a university. He gives up and gives his ex-wife whatever she wants.
            We start to see that Joyce is lonely and wants companionship. A friend she has not seen in years tells her to be careful now that she is divorced, she might become lonely and seek odd ways of companionship. Joyce takes this to heart and seriously thinks about it.
            Nothing too spectacular about this film in the slightest except for the flashbacks and the sets. The sets are a bit difficult to explain. When a scene comes in we can see through the walls before the lights come on. When the lights come on it is as if the walls have appeared. When the lights go out we can yet again see outside. Some scenes were really good they had the feel of a stage play.
            The cast was alright. Bette Davis was nothing to brag about. The flashback scenes are where she was the best. I only downloaded  Payment on Demand because Frances Dee was in it and she was only in one scene for like two minutes. But let me tell you she was gorgeous. I would have liked to have seen her some more as the other woman. This is the one time I can see why a man would cheat on his wife she was ten time more attractive than Davis.
             When the film was made Howard Hughes was head of RKO (which was the studio the film was released by). There is a scene at an airport and his company logo TWA can be seen on the side of the plane. Hughes did not like the orginal ending of the film (which probably had David and Joyce getting back together) so two days before the film was to be premiered at Radio City Music Hall Hughes ordered the ending to be refilmed and it was edited and spliced together before the premier. I have to say I liked the ending I was happy to see that Joyce and David did not get back together.
            As I said at the beginning Payment on Demand was not my kind of film. I really cannot stand films of any kind dealing with divorce. I feel bad seeing these kinds of film because my parents are still together after twenty-six years. I also just find them a bore it is kind of like the same themes there is the loneliness which is almost always shown from the women’s perspective.  
            Only watch Payment on Demand is you are a Bette Davis completist but other than that it is not worth the time. I was mad when the film was over I felt like I wasted my time.

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