Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne: Story of a jewel thief

The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne (Documentary).

Treehouse Moving Images

2 out of 4 stars

Written by
Eunetta Boone
Directed by
Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond
Language
English

At 83, Doris Payne is the star of a documentary that explores her life as a jewel thief.

Over six decades, she's managed to pull off $2-million in audacious heists. How she accomplished those feats needn't much inference: In present-day interviews, Payne is a beguiling presence who easily blurs truths, half-truths and, eventually, outright lies in retelling her life story.

A mix of archival documents, re-enactments and retro video footage help set the scenes of her crimes, such as that time in Monte Carlo when she lifted a Cartier ring with a price tag carrying "nine zeroes." But when your subject plays loose with facts, how much can the narrative be trusted? The directors don't challenge her recollections nearly enough, instead relying on secondary interviews to put Payne's life in context.

Story continues below advertisement

It seems odd, though, the person who seems to know her most intimately is a screenwriter, Eunetta Boone, whose biopic of the same protagonist has been in limbo since 2006. There is wonderful source material here; it's easy to root for Payne's transgressions. But her story is dying for a multimillion-dollar Hollywood treatment. The last actress attached to Boone's project? Halle Berry. If only.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.