The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne

Watch The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne

  • NR
  • 2015
  • 1 hr 14 min
  • 7.2  (267)
  • 62

The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne is a 2013 documentary that recounts the life story of Doris Payne, a notorious African American jewel thief who made headlines for her audacious and sophisticated heists across the globe for six decades. The film is directed by Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina and features interviews with Payne, her family members, friends, and law enforcement officials.

The movie is a fascinating exploration of the life of a woman who defied stereotypes and societal constraints to pursue her passion for expensive diamond jewelry. Payne's career as a criminal mastermind began in the 1950s when she started stealing small items from jewelry stores in her hometown of Slab Fork, West Virginia. Over time, she honed her skills and expanded her targets, traveling to Europe, Asia, and Africa to rob high-end boutiques and hotels.

The documentary provides an in-depth look at Payne's modus operandi, which involved using disguises, aliases, and charm to gain the trust of salespeople and security personnel. She often posed as a wealthy socialite or member of royalty and would regularly switch her accents and dialects to avoid detection. Payne had a photographic memory that enabled her to identify rare and valuable gems and to memorize their locations in stores.

The film also delves into the personal life of Doris Payne, revealing how her upbringing in a poor and racially segregated community, and her rocky relationship with her mother, shaped her worldview and choices. Payne married young and had two children but struggled to balance her family responsibilities with her criminal activities. She went to jail several times, but her skills and charm allowed her to escape and continue her spree of thefts.

The documentary presents a nuanced and thought-provoking discussion of the motivations and justifications for Payne's crimes. Some interviewees view her as a hero and a feminist icon who defied racial and gender stereotypes and challenged the power structures of the jewelry industry. Others condemn her actions as illegal and immoral and stress the harm and trauma that her victims suffered.

The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne also touches on the impact of age and technology on Payne's criminal career, as she struggled to adapt to new security measures and the changing world of jewelry sales. In 2013, at the age of 83, she was arrested again for stealing a $22,000 ring from a California store and pleaded no contest to the charges. The film features Payne's candid reflections on her life choices, regrets, and legacy.

Overall, The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne is a compelling and engaging documentary that sheds light on an unusual and fascinating figure in the world of crime. The film blends archival footage, animation, and interviews to provide a well-rounded portrait of a woman who defied expectations, broke barriers, and challenged the status quo. Whether one sees Payne as a heroine or a villain, the movie raises important questions about race, gender, power, morality, and the human drive for adventure and accomplishment.

The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne is a 2015 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 14 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2 and a MetaScore of 62.

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The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 14 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (267)
  • Metascore