Payday (1973)

Payday (1973)

“You didn’t earn it.”

Country singer Maury Dann (Rip Torn) experiences a downward spiral as he and his band take a road trip across America.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Character Studies
  • Has-Beens
  • Musicians
  • Rip Torn Films
  • Road Trip

Response to Peary’s Review:
This “excruciatingly unpleasant” film — starring Rip Torn as an aging, has-been musician who “makes life miserable” for most of the people he’s around, much like “Robert Montgomery’s washed-up producer in The Saxon Charm (1948)” — is nonetheless oddly compelling and full of “offbeat well-played scenes.” Torn has never been better, playing someone so spectacularly self-absorbed and out of touch that he arrives “either four months early or eight months too late” for his child’s birthday. The supporting cast is excellent as well — particularly Elayne Heilveil as Maury’s dim-witted groupie.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • Rip Torn as Maury Dann
  • Maury’s joyfully wacky mom (Cara Dunn) throwing her laundry over the clothesline
  • Heilveil discussing frying pans with Maury’s driver

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.


One thought on “Payday (1973)

  1. First viewing. In agreement; not a must, but compelling nonetheless.

    The main thing ‘Payday’ accomplishes is this: you really feel what life is like for this lowlife singer on the road – esp. the emphasis on the amount of time spent in a car. Still, it’s kind of brutal viewing, with its scenes of payola, girl trouble and royal treatment paid to Torn.

    As noted as ‘redeeming’, my fave scene comes when driver Cliff Emmich (a ‘closet’ chef) explains to Heilveil (a cousin of the Shelley Duvall character in ‘Nashville’…the two films would work well together) about omelettes and the right frying pans for them.

    Runner-up: Mayleen (Ahna Capri) and Heilveil in the loo.

    Torn is, indeed, remarkable as Maury Dann. I would have liked to have seen a little more emphasis on his reality as a singer – we only see him performing in the opening number and a composing sequence later on – but the thrust of the film is his unraveling.

    The final scene, with Torn driving recklessly with a wanna-be in the backseat, is indeed powerful.

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