|movie review: Payday
This is why I love Netflix—because where else
but Netflix will you stumble across a movie like
Payday—featuring Rip Torn in the lead
supported by a star studded cast including the
likes of Elayne Heilveil, Cliff Emmich, Michael
Gwynne, Ahna Capri, etc and directed by Daryl
But I will always watch a film featuring Rip
Torn and if he has been in better form than
this one I do not recall. Rip is always at his
best playing a lowlife, a scumbag, an
asshole. And in payday he has found the role
of his dreams. Asshole could be a euphemism.
It is always interesting to me that people will
pay $12.50—not including popcorn--to watch a
movie about someone they would cross the
street to avoid in their daily life but there you
Rip plays Maury Dann, a country western
singer, something of a star and even, maybe,
on the way to superstardom. Maury is a
simple man with but one interest in life:
Maury. Everything else must be and is
subordinated to this concept.
The movie has no plot. Its a series of
snapshots of life on the road—the perfect life
for Maury because he is a man whose middle
name is Trouble and for someone like this its
best to present a moving target.
Clarence the manager. Clarence is sharp,
always thinking, always thinking one step
ahead, he misses nothing. He is sharp and he
dresses sharp—a sharp suit, the custom shirt,
a cool tie, there are shades to complete the
look and even following 12 hours in a Range
Rover with 4 musicians and their gear he exits
the vehicle with his cool intact—-perfectly.
Clarence was born to manage and specifically
to manage Maury Dann whose middle name
is Trouble. Maury causes the problems,
Clarence solves the problems. Its his gift. The
bimbos come and go but Clarence would be
hard to replace.
Mayleen the Bimbo. Picture Mayleen in
raspberry bellbottoms and raspberry blouse
open to mid level to reveal terrific jugs. She
sports a ‘do teased to within an inch of its life,
70’s style, and here is the gum, bubble gum, a
sizable wad she chews with a vengeance, the
jaw muscles of a lion tearing meat from a
zebra and here comes the bubble, it expands,
expands some more, collapses, the mouth
resumes chewing as the process repeats. You
get the picture.
Chicago. Chicago is the driver/bodyguard. Hes
the large type, built like a safe and a neck
joining up with the head at an indeterminate
point. There is something about the face, a
sweetness that contradicts the body and the
nature of the job. But in this job its all about
attitude. He is ready at all times for whatever
the night might bring and if things begin to
slide—its shotgun city.
The car. Next to Maury the car is the star of
the film—a two tone cream and sky blue ‘71
Cadillac Brougham, the boat model, with the
tinted interior window to separate the driver
from Maury in the back seat, upholstered in
cowhide, and its here, in the back seat of the
Cad with Chicago up front and the pedal is to
the metal hauling ass on the way to the next
job that Maury is happiest—smoking weed,
drinking bourbon, popping an upper while
writing music or banging Mayleen. Its the car
of a star and as Mayleen says: a star is
someone who gets what they want.
Rosamond the new girlfriend. Mayleen is the
bimbo type and Rosamond would be perfect
teaching Sunday school or during the service
up in the loft singing with the choir. She is 22
or maybe 20 or even 18—-its hard to say and
even harder to figure what she is doing in the
vicinity of Maury Dann and Co—that puzzles
her as well—but there she is, in the parking lot
dressed in plaid checking out the Cad—all that
great upholstered in cowhide action in the back
seat—and when Maury says: we only pass this
way once darlin’—ya might as well do it in a
Cadillac—she is inclined to agree.
Of all the people in the world who should never
marry, let alone have children, Maury tops the
list but at some point he crossed paths with a
good woman—i.e. clean living—with whom he
exchanged vows and fathered two children. He
visits the house from time to time when the
schedule permits—with Chicago in the Cad
parked out front and Mayleen in the back
seat and here comes Maury carrying presents
for the kids—of the cheap shit kind that
combined would not suffice to pay for a quart
of Wild Turkey--and guess what—the kids are
Maury says: call the school.
Maurys wife: I cant do that.
You could wait.
I cant wait!
Two Mayleen scenes
Mayleen is is asleep in the car, over to Maurys
left with the new girlfriend, Rosamond to his
right and he in the middle humming some
blues on the harp. Maury decides the time has
come to give Rosamond a taste of life on the
road Maury Dann style and he breaks out a
joint and takes a hit and passes it over to
Rosamond and demonstrates the proper
method of inhaling and they finish the joint. He
lightly tugs at the blanket covering Mayleen
and tugs a bit more until it no longer covers
Mayleen but Maury and Rosamond and a bit of
squirming as Maury works himself into position
and the moaning and groaning and thumping
and bumping begins and continues on as
Mayleen retreats more deeply into her snooze.
Thats one scene. In the other scene He throws
Mayleen out of the car. Shes been around too
long. A bimbo has one function and it isnt to
get on her mans nerves. Shes starting to bitch,
about this, that and the other and the result is
ejection from the car, standing there on the
side of the road in the raspberry bell bottom
ensemble, the middle of nowhere and the Cad
peels away, throwing up a spray of gravel,
travels 100 feet and now there is a squeal of
rubber as the car suddenly brakes hard, jams
into reverse, backs up 100 feet. Hes changed
his mind. But he hasnt changed his mind.
Down comes the window and he pitches out a
wad of bills, the Cad peels off, travels 100
feet, brakes hard, into reverse and backs up.
Now hes changed his mind. He exits the car
and retrieves the wad, still lying on the
ground, back into the car and it peels away. I
loved that scene.
The acting. The acting doesnt look like acting.
Rip Torn is acting because he is an actor,
likewise Michael Gwynne and Ahna Capri but
for everyone else they seem to have been
recruited from the street to participate in the
film, to do the same things in the same way
they do in everyday life, playing cards, eating
takeout, attending the country western
The music. There is no music. From time to
time Maury will whip out his harp to fiddle with
some blues in the car or a bit of a traveling
theme while the car hauls ass on the
interstate but otherwise the absence of a score
allows the action—-or non-action--to speak for
itself and it does so—eloquently.
Pacing. Its a slow film. The camera lingers.
Here is a meaty hand entering a frame, the
hand of Chicago, traveling through space,
motel room space, to hover briefly over a
card game in a haze of cigar smoke, and
deposits a carton of takeout onto the table.
Or: a barbershop scene with Clarence in the
chair, the barber finishing up. He brushes
Clarence off, retrieves the coat, holds the coat.
Clarence slips into the coat, a final brushoff by
the barber and Clarence checks things out in
the mirror. Straightens the tie a bit, on with
the shades. Looking good. Tips the barber.
Thats the scene. There is no dialogue, no
music, no nothing. But the point is made: the
meticulous type who attends to the details
and, as someone has said—genius is in the
A film needs an ending, even a film like
Payday—the anti-film—and it happens in this
way: Maury has a heart attack while behind
the wheel of the Cad—fleeing the police on a
manslaughter rap—a long story. But there he
is hauling ass in the Cad on a country road and
a lifetime of popping uppers and guzzling Wild
Turkey, the smoking of 4 cigars a day and a
steady diet of double Big Macs and Kentucky
Fried have caught up to him and he drops
dead. The Cad rockets off the road into the
bush, bounces off a few trees and rolls over
twice pitching Maury out the door, a bloody
mess. End of movie. Maury is dead and the
Cad is totaled and your sympathies are more
for the car.