The Lady Pays Off


1h 20m 1951

Brief Synopsis

The naive Evelyn Warren, elected shool-teacher of the year by Time Magazine, goes to Las Vegas, where she loses a lot of money. In order to pay her debts, casino-manager Matt Braddock asks her to take care of his sad little daughter Diana.

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 1951
Premiere Information
Boston, MA and Hartford, CT opening: 2 Nov 1951
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Monterey, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

At the Howell School for girls in Pasadena, California, prim, young Evelyn Walsh Warren is feted and featured on the cover of Time magazine as Teacher of the Year. She is distracted, however, by thoughts of the countless men who have wanted to marry her for her parenting skills only. After Evelyn confides in her dean, Bessie Howell, that she is vacationing in Reno in the hopes of meeting a man who will forget that she is a teacher, Dean Howell calls her cousin Ronald in Reno. Ronald turns out to be a dull mathematician, who brings Evelyn to a casino to try his "system." Bored, she drinks too much and begins to gamble. At the same time, casino owner Matt Braddock protects his establishment from some mobsters who are trying to buy it by beating them up. When he then spots Evelyn at the roulette table, he recognizes her from the cover of Time and signals the croupier to allow her to continue playing on credit. Later, Evelyn learns that she has acquired $7,000 in debt, and haughtily informs Matt that she was duped and cannot pay. Matt suggests she work off what she owes over a few weeks at his vactaion home in Carmel, caring for his nine-year-old daughter Diane, whose mother died two years earlier and who now suffers from constant melancholy. Although unmoved, Evelyn is forced to accept after Matt first threatens to publicize her gambling debt and then cheats after offering to draw cards for the $7,000. A furious Evelyn arrives at Matt's beautiful vacation home and immediately snaps at Diane, unwittingly making the girl cry. That night, Evelyn overhears Diane tell her father over the phone that Miss Warren dislikes her. Chagrined, Evelyn embraces Diane and promises to make her happy. By the time a concerned Matt visits Carmel the following night, he finds Diane smiling and active. Diane soon notices, however, that Evelyn dislikes Matt and asks her father to be nicer. That night, he approaches Evelyn and asks her to stay out of kindness to Diane, but Evelyn, who knows Diane only needs a mother, insists she cannot stay. She is overjoyed to see Matt burn her IOU, until he reveals that it was a fake, at which point she runs to her room. There, her reflection admonishes her that she has her first chance to prove that she can seduce a man, and she immediately begins her campaign to woo Matt. Diane, who wants Matt and Diane to fall in love, encourages the two to share a romantic dinner that evening. Just as Matt is beginning to fall for Evelyn, however, his old flame, socialite Kay Stoddard, arrives unexpectedly. Kay, recognizing Evelyn as a rival, insists on accompanying the three on their hike the next morning. Kay, in heels, is quickly exhausted, but quietly informs Evelyn that she will not give up on Matt easily. Later, Diane deliberately leads Kay into a bed of poison oak, which leaves her bedridden for days. Now unhindered, Evelyn and Matt grow closer. One day, they go on a quick fishing trip, during which Evelyn hints about marriage. When Matt seems to shy away from the topic, she secretly cuts the boat engine line, stranding them. They are rescued by a fishing ship that is sailing to the town next to Carmel. After Evelyn becomes seasick, the captain administers a "medicine" made of pure alcohol, and she cavorts wildly all night. Delighted with her uninhibited side, Matt realizes that he loves her and asks her to marry him. Back in Carmel, Matt tells Kay that he is in love with Evelyn, and Kay, hiding her pain, leaves. Just then, the Reno mobsters visit, and Matt now happily accepts their money for his casino. Before he can inform Evelyn that he is going into a legitimate business, however, she reveals that her love for him has only been a hoax. She returns to Howell's, but as soon as Matt's housekeeper, Marie, calls to report that Diane has run away, she races back to Carmel. There, a distraught Matt joins her and the two begin to bicker on the patio. Evelyn announces that Matt was merely looking for a mother for his child, and he asks why she does not believe that a man would love her for herself. Hearing them, Marie pulls Diane from the pantry, where she has been hiding as part of a ruse to reunite her father and teacher. The three embrace, and when Diane asks them if they love each other, each is forced to admit the truth.

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 1951
Premiere Information
Boston, MA and Hartford, CT opening: 2 Nov 1951
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Monterey, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Hollywood Reporter news items reported that The Lady Pays Off was temporarily shut down in early May after actor Stephen McNally collapsed on the set from appendicitis and subsequently underwent an appendectomy. The film marked Linda Darnell's first project under a new contract with Twentieth Century-Fox allowing her to make one outside picture. Lynne Hunter made her feature film debut in The Lady Pays Off. Other Hollywood Reporter news items add Harry Mendoza and George Wallace to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a March 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, some scenes were filmed on location in Monterey, California.