PAY ME

Released 9/1/17 by Universal/Jewel; Director: Joseph De Grasse; Screenplay: Beth Meredyth; Cinematography: King Gray; 5 reels

CAST: Lon Chaney (Joe Lawson), Ed Brown (Martin), William Clifford (Hal Curtis), Evelyn Selbie (Hilda Hendricks), Tom Wilson ("Bad" Jepson), Dorothy Phillips (Marta), Claire Du Brey (Carmencita), William Stowell (Bud Smith), Richard La Reno

SYNOPSIS: Joe Lawson and Hal Curtis are partners in the "Unity" Gold Mine. Curtis is happily married with a lovely baby daughter, while Lawson is a cruel man who terrifies his sickly wife and their six-month old son. Lawson has been seeing Hilda, the daughter of the saloon owner, who begs him to take her away with him. Lawson plans to steal Curtis' half of the mine and sell it to Martin, a disreputable but crafty man. He sneaks into Lawson's cabin to steal his deed when Curtis catches him. Lawson shoots, but hits Mrs. Lawson instead, then strangles Curtis, leaving their baby crying on the floor. Lawson sells the deed to Martin and tells Hilda they are leaving town. They pass by the Curtis cabin and, hearing the baby cry, Hilda goes in and takes the baby with them. Years pass, and the worst outlaw town in the west is Lawson City, ruled by the Mayor, "Killer" Lawson, who also runs "The Nugget" saloon. The one man Lawson respects is "Bad" Jepson, who has murdered 10 men. Marta, Curtis' daughter, loathes and fears Lawson, but loves Hilda as her own mother. Carmencita, a new dancer at the saloon, is Lawson's current favorite. A group of lumberjacks come into town, and among them is Bud Smith, the toughest fighter in the group. Smith sees Marta, is stunned by her girlish beauty, and gets up the courage to talk to her. Smith enters the saloon where Lawson and Jepson are in particularly foul moods that night. Lawson forces Marta to put on a dance hall skirt and deal cards. Smith sees her, and thinking that he has been deceived by a wicked woman, proceeds to humiliate her and kiss her roughly. Weeks pass, and one night Jepson and Smith argue over Marta. Lawson has finally recognized Smith as his own son who he abandoned, and knows that he is a witness to his previous murders. Lawson encites Smith and Jepson into a fight to the death, which Smith wins, but he is badly injured. Marta and Hilda help Smith to their cabin, when Jepson, who has recovered, enters the cabin and attacks Marta. Smith is revived and strikes Jepson, who hits his head and is killed. A stranger has arrived at the saloon, and Lawson soon recognizes him as Curtis, who he thought was dead. Lawson sneaks into his room, and when they fight, a lamp is broken and the saloon catches fire. Carmencita jumps from a window and is killed. Smith and Marta see the flames and hurry to the saloon. As Lawson is about to hurl Curtis from the window, Hilda shoots him. Curtis rescues Hilda from the burning building, and Marta tells Smith that Lawson was his father as well as hers. Curtis tells Marta that he is her real father, and she rushes to Smith's arms, delighted that they are not brother and sister.

"PAY ME is a strong, virile drama. It smacks of the melodramatic in its every scene. Dorothy Phillips, who is featured, doesn't get much opportunity to impress her audience that she is really the star. As a matter of fact, Lon Chaney, William Stowell or Evelyn Selbie vie with her for honors. These do unusually good work in character roles." ---Motion Picture News

"Lon Chaney makes the bad man of the plot a little too palpable, but is forceful nevertheless." ---Moving Picture World

NOTES: The film is also known as VENGEANCE OF THE WEST. Some sources list different character names for several actors. Chaney is referred to as "Killer" White (not Lawson), Wilson is Mac Jepson (not "Bad"), Du Brey is Nita (not Carmencita) and Stowell is Bill (not Bud). One wonders if the film was heavily edited to change both the title and the character names after early previews.


© 1996,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis


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