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Film / Paid

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Paid is a 1930 film directed by Sam Wood, starring Joan Crawford.

The film opens with Mary Turner (Crawford), a shop girl, unjustly accused of theft. The prosecutor, Demarest, pushes for the maximum, and the store owner, Edward Gilder, refuses her pleas for mercy. Mary is convicted and sent to jail for three years.

Three years expire and a hardened, cynical Mary is released. Her prison friend Polly, now working as a prostitute, refers her to gangster Joe Garson. Joe has interest in making Mary his moll, but Mary has other ideas. Specifically, she has an idea for a scam. Mary's idea is to get good-looking young women to tempt rich older men into ill-considered marriage proposals. Afterwards, facing a breach of promise suit, the men pay off. This gray blackmail scheme works well enough, but Mary has bigger ideas for revenge—ideas that involve Edward Gilder's handsome young son Bob.


  • Breach of Promise of Marriage: Mary's whole scam. Attractive ladies extract written letters with promises of marriage from rich older men. The young ladies then sue for breach of promise. To avoid embarrassment, the rich older men pay the women off. So it isn't technically blackmail.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Bob starts drinking a lot after Mary leaves him, after revealing herself to his father.
    Bob: No, there are too many things I want to forget.
  • Ephebophile: Subtly implied with "The General", a rich older man who falls victim to Mary's breach-of-promise scheme. In the scene where The General is being forced to pay off, his lover Aggie—Mary's friend and partner—is dressed in a sailor suit, a child's outfit. She is talking in a babygirl voice. And it's revealed that The General signed his incriminating letter to her as "The Big Brown Bear". (Yes, this is a film from The Pre-Code Era.)
  • Fake Brit: In-Universe. Eddie the crook speaks in a British accent and says stuff like "I say, this is a bit of all right", despite being born in "south Brooklyn". He loses the accent when Joe pulls a gun on him.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Mary is innocent and naive when she goes to jail, but leaves jail hardened and vengeful. She comes up with a quasi-legal blackmail scheme.
  • Love Triangle: Joe, the gangster. Mary, his partner in crime, whom Joe falls in love with. And Bob, target of Mary's scheme, whom she falls in love with for real.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: Edward Gilder does not connect the glamorous woman who shows up at his house with the terrified shopgirl who went to prison three years before. Mary takes great pleasure in dropping the bomb.
    Mary: We've met before. Only it's been a long while.
  • One Last Job: Joe's whole motive in stealing what is supposedly the real "Mona Lisa" is to get $200,000 so he and Mary can leave the life forever. It's a trap laid by the cops.
  • One-Word Title
  • Romantic Fakeā€“Real Turn: Mary romances Edward Guilder's son in order to get revenge. Does she fall in love with Bob? Of course she does.
  • Roof Hopping: Joe and Red escape this way after the robbery job goes bad. Or at least Joe does; Red gets shot, falls off the roof, and dies in the hospital.
  • Scenery Censor: When all the lady convicts are ushered into a shower, an apparently pointless modesty wall is on the near side of the shower room, to cover their naughty bits.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Mary wears a sexy backless dress when she's on a date with Bob.
  • Shameful Strip: After the Traumatic Haircut, Mary's second unpleasant prison experience comes when she's ordered to take her clothes off and enter the shower room with all the other prisoners.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Mary is sobbing when her hair is first cut upon arrival in prison.
  • Witch with a Capital "B": Joe is stressing about a crime job.
    Joe: I'm as nervous as a witch today.
    Aggie: Did you say witch?