Movie Monday: Why Pay Rent? 1935

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Eighty-five years ago, today, the black & white short comedy Why Pay Rent? was released. Directed by Lloyd French and, co-written by Dolph Singer & Jack Henley, it starred Roscoe Ates, Shemp Howard, Billie Leonard, Ethel Sykes and Ron Le May.


Elmer (Roscoe Ates) fixes up a room for his just-married, freeloading brother-in-law and wife. When the newlyweds show up, Henry (Shemp Howard) brings a surprise in the form of stepson Junior. The apartment is now too small so, Henry decides that they’ll buy a lot and build a do-it-yourself home, a disaster in the making when Junior switches the house’s part numbers. It doesn’t help matters that Elmer, Henry and the wives are all incompetent.


In the 1930s, the Vitaphone division of Warner Brothers made a bunch of very uninspired and, often, unfunny comedy shorts. One of them, Why Pay Rent? is a bit like One Week (with Buster Keaton) but, only if the folks building the house were dumber than a pile of bricks. In many ways, this might have worked better as a Three Stooges short, which is interesting because Shemp Howard stars in this one, as well as Roscoe Ates, an incredibly unfunny comedian whose shtick was stuttering…which was annoying rather and cruel.

This film isn’t listed as lost but, I couldn’t find any video clips of it. I did find some stills of Elmer painting himself into a corner on Getty Images. ~Vic

Trivia Bit:
♦ Some of the construction sight gags, including the final scene, were re-done two years later by Moe, Larry and Curly in The Sitter Downers.

Additional Reading:
Shemp Howard Review (DVD Talk)
Why Pay Rent? (IMDB)
Why Pay Rent? (1935) (The Three Stooges Online Filmography)

14 thoughts on “Movie Monday: Why Pay Rent? 1935

    badfinger20 said:
    May 5, 2020 at 1:40 AM

    Now One Week is very good. I love Buster Keaton’s short comedies and feature length.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 5, 2020 at 1:31 PM

      That review was much longer. I grabbed the middle paragraph. The writer was BRUTAL.

      I am not a fan of The Stooges. My humor just does not go in that direction. I’m more of a biting sarcasm type. I do like some sight gags but, they have to be done a certain way. I happened to catch Grease, again, a couple of days ago and the shit going on in the background is hysterical.

        badfinger20 said:
        May 5, 2020 at 1:37 PM

        No me either as much…my dad hated the Stooges. He told me they made him nervous lol…not many things on earth made him nervous.
        I liked Keaton and Chaplin…they were the Beatles and Stones of comedy then lol.
        Later on it was the Marx Brothers…they were clever.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          May 5, 2020 at 3:00 PM

          O.M.G. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 I nearly choked on my smoothie!!! LMAO!!! Oh! My stomach hurts, now…

          They make me nervous, too! 😆😆😆 Excellent description!

          Sorry…I just fucking lost it there for a minute…(blowing nose…wiping eyes…)

          Groucho was a scream. He shoulda been a late night talk show host like Carson.

            badfinger20 said:
            May 5, 2020 at 4:39 PM

            LOL… yea I watched them as a kid…the best scene they ever had was..they were in a leaky boat and Curly I believe shot a hole in the boat for the “water to run out”….but yea…they did get on my nerves at times.

            Let me tell you the reason I’ve waited so long to reply….

            Martha decided to jump and climb over our fence…she kept going way up in the woods…I drove over the ridge to houses…Bailey and I…No one would answer the door…finally I drove down to a newer house with No Trespassing signs everywhere…No one was home…I kept yelling and yelling for her…there she was! INSIDE a barbwired fence. How the HELL she got in there I don’t know.
            We couldn’t get her out so we went back to the house where they would not answer and the lady finally answered and she had to unlock the gate…we got her but the cops arrived because the woman called….

            ARGGGGGGG!!!!! We are going Saturday to get more stuff for our fence to make it higher.

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              May 5, 2020 at 10:25 PM

              I didn’t notice the length of time. I’ve been busy, too. Like I said…no worries.

              Would an electronic fence & collar help?

              What a bitch. She has issues.

                badfinger20 said:
                May 5, 2020 at 10:28 PM

                What a fun day! Well Bailey and I are getting some more wire and making the fence higher… Electronic fence might be the alternative.

                  The Hinoeuma responded:
                  May 5, 2020 at 11:56 PM

                  She’s becoming a handful. LOL!

                    badfinger20 said:
                    May 6, 2020 at 12:01 AM

                    I was so damn mad! She has selective hearing…calling for her and she turns her damn head.

                      The Hinoeuma responded:
                      May 6, 2020 at 1:14 AM

                      Doggie training?

                      badfinger20 said:
                      May 6, 2020 at 1:15 AM

                      OH YEAH… when this crap is over…Pet Smart we go.

                      The Hinoeuma responded:
                      May 6, 2020 at 1:17 AM


    Kat said:
    May 6, 2020 at 6:19 PM

    Maybe this short wasn’t lost, maybe it was thrown away. I could never understand the popularity of the Stooges. I think Keaton was excellent but when it comes to physical comedy Chaplin was king. Have you seen the movie where he’s on the tightrope with a monkey? I laugh just thinking about it.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 6, 2020 at 6:25 PM

      Max, above, would agree with you on Keaton. Neither of us like Stooges.

      I haven’t seen any Chaplin movies. I may have to look for it.

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