Payday [DVD] [1972]

Payday has earned a powerful cult reputation since it was released in 1972, which is impressive considering how few people have actually seen the movie -- it never received a full-fledged nationwide theatrical release, and its availability on home video has been spotty at best. However, the strength of Rip Torn's wired, maniacal performance hasn't dimmed a bit with the passage of time, and this DVD release from Warner Bros. finally makes the film widely available. Payday has been transferred to disc in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1; the image is letterboxed on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16x9 monitors. Richard C. Glouner's cinematography sometimes makes Payday look more like a made-for-TV movie than a theatrical feature (doubtless a product of the film's low budget), but this DVD presents the images in the best possible light -- the source materials are squeaky clean, the transfer is pin-sharp and the colors are rich and naturalistic, especially during the outdoor sequences. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo, retaining the original monophonic sound mix, and the quality is good if not exceptional. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. As a bonus, this edition includes a commentary track featuring producer and financier Saul Zaentz and director Daryl Duke; since Duke died in the fall of 2006, either this disc has been in production for some time (it was released in January 2008) or his comments were rescued from another source. At any rate, Duke's comments tend to have more to do with the film and what inspired it, while Zaentz's contributions more often focus on his first efforts in film production and the life of musicians on the road. The disc also includes Payday's original theatrical trailer as well as a trailer for The Dukes of Hazard: The Beginning, which seems wildly incompatible with the main feature. If the extras aren't as impressive as one might hope, this is still a solid presentation of a more than worthwhile film, and hopefully this disc will allow Payday to finally find the wider audience it richly deserves.
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Overview

Special Features

  • Commentary by director Daryl Duke and Saul Zaentz
  • Theatrical trailer

Synopsis

Payday
A musician finds his life and his career jumping off the rails in this moody, intelligent drama. Maury Dann (Rip Torn) is a singer and songwriter struggling to hold onto his footing as one of the top names in country & western music. This being 1972, long before the Nashville sound had gone "mainstream," Dann has a new Cadillac and a small entourage to show for his efforts, but most of his shows are one-nighters at beer-soaked honky tonks in the Deep South. Onstage Maury Dann comes off as a soft-hearted good ol' boy, but off the stand, Dann is a mean-spirited hell raiser with a nearly unquenchable appetite for booze, pills, and women. Over the course of a seemingly typical day and a half, Dann steals a fan's girlfriend; ditches his longtime mistress, Mayleen (Anna Capri); picks up a naïve groupie named Rosamond (Elayne Heilveil) and gives her a crash course in life on the road; fires his guitar player (and best friend) and hires a starry-eyed teenager as his replacement; tries to bribe a disc jockey with booze and free records; has a harrowing run-in with his speed-addicted mother (Cara Dunn); discovers he's missed his son's birthday by four months; and, in cahoots with his manager, Clarence (Michael C. Gwynne), fast-talks his loyal driver, cook, and gofer, Chicago (Cliff Emmich), into taking a possible murder rap. While Payday earned excellent reviews (particularly for Rip Torn's superb performance as Maury Dann) and a handful of awards (Daryl Duke's direction won him a citation from the National Association of Film Critics, while Don Carpenter's screenplay received a prize from the Writer's Guild of America) the film's downbeat themes made it a tough sell. However, Payday gained a cult following, and more than one "outlaw" country star of the 1970s has been said to claim the film was based on his own true story. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Cliff Emmich
    Cliff Emmich - Chauffeur
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    Winton McNair - Highway Policeman
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    Earle Trigg - Disk Jockey
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    Bobby Smith - Lyman Pitt
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    Bill Littleton - Process Server
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.