Among the harridans and hard-timers in a women's prison, one inmate stands out like a diamond in a box of tarnished costume jewelry. She's Mary Turner, convicted of a crime she didn't commit. Once an innocent shop girl, now embittered by three years in the pen, Mary has big plans after her release. First she'll make a fortune running scams that stay just within the law. Then she'll seek revenge on the man who put her behind bars by marrying his guileless son. Joan Crawford got one of her earliest solid dramatic roles in Paid (Grand Hotel was one year in the future), and she made the most of it. Her trenchant portrayal of Mary -- tough and tender, smart and vulnerable -- makes this version of the often-filmed story a standout.
PAID was the third film version of the Bayard Veiller stage play WITHIN THE LAW. Joan Crawford is cast as a shopgirl falsely arrested for stealing and sent to jail for three years. She swears vengeance on the store owner (Purnell Pratt), and to that end sets up a shady but legal racket wherein she and partner Marie Prevost act as "matchmakers" for lonely old men. It's all part of a plan to fleece the store owner by placing him in a compromising position, but Joan is sidetracked when she meets the owner's son (Kent Douglass. Marrying him in order to exact revenge on his father, Crawford falls in love with the young man and abandons her scheme. But once more, Crawford is wrongly accused of a crime, this time of murder. PAID ends happily for all concerned--especially MGM, which remade this reliable property (again!) under its old title WITHIN THE LAW (1939), with Ruth Hussey in the lead.
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