The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne

Release date:May 28, 2014

Studio:IFC Films

Directors:Kirk Marcolina, Matthew Pond

MPAA Rating:N/A


Starring:Doris Payne


Plot Summary:

A documentary on a woman who is possibly the world's most unlikely recidivist jewel thief. At 83, Doris Payne is still elegant, charismatic, and articulate –- but with a 60-year career in crime, 32 aliases,10 birth dates, 11 social security numbers, and 9 passports. She's successfully fleeced Tiffany and Cartier, escaped from custody in Europe with a hot 10-carat diamond, and passed herself off as Otto Preminger's wife. We catch up with Payne as she faces new charges that she's taken a diamond ring from Macy's in San Diego. Judge Brown sums it up: "She's charming. She's Santa Claus's wife. She's a thief." A thief so singular in style and achievement, that Halle Berry has been in talks to play her in a biopic. Doris Payne was brought up in the segregated South in the 1930s: a poor, single, African-American mother of two. Her charm and beauty were an obvious advantage. For years she had an accomplice/"fence" with whom she was romantically involved. Even so, it is still hard to fathom how she stole $2 million in jewelry in heists spanning several continents, and eluded the police and FBI countless times. Is Doris Payne a "psychopath" as one of her victims contends? An old-fashioned trickster in the mode of Br’er Rabbit, as a UCLA English professor suggests? Or just a woman trying to make ends meet who claims you can’t be accused of cheating in a world in which the game is already rigged?

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