Synopsis by Hal Erickson
In this adaptation of Jeffrey Dell's play, Charles Laughton recreates his stage role as a seemingly meek bank clerk. To make good his debts, Laughton ingratiates himself with his wealthy Australian nephew (Ray Milland), then poisons the lad and buries the body in his garden. Using the money the nephew had on his person, Laughton invests wisely and becomes rich himself. He rapidly goes to seed, deserting his wife (Dorothy Peterson) for a "woman of the world" (Verree Teasdale) and drinking himself into unconsciousness. Laughton's distraught wife figures out the extent of her husband's crimes, and grimly arranges for Laughton to accidentally kill her--with enough circumstantial evidence planted to convict the husband of murder. Payment Deferred was a particularly vivid experience for supporting actor Ray Milland, who watched in amazement as Charles Laughton got away with some of the ripest "ham" ever seen on film.
clerk, murder, nephew, poison, fortune [wealth], evidence, wife