"You must pay the rent!" "But I can't pay the rent!"

Villain (with moustache): You must pay the rent!

Damsel in distress (with bow in her hair): But I can’t pay the rent!

Villain: You must pay the rent!

Damsel: But I can’t pay the rent!

Hero (wearing bow tie): I’ll pay the rent!

Damsel: My hero!

Villain: Curses! Foiled again!
Does this mean anything to anybody? Can anybody tell me where it comes from?


A stereotypical plot of a mid-century oater. The villian usually holds the mortgage (“rent” sounds a bit alien to the scenario) on some sod-buster’s land and does whatever he can to cause the farmer to default on the loan so he can foreclose and sell the land to the railroad or exploit the inevitable gold or oil reserves only he knows about. The villian might do this by hiring some goons (gunslingers) to threaten the farmer or burn his crops or run off his livestock. The farmer’s only recourse is to pimp his lovely young daughter to a traveling hero in exchange for his help. The hero eventually bests the goons in a shootout and exposes the villian’s nefarious plans to the townfolk who then ride the villian out of town on a rail. The hero moves on to the next town and another farmer’s daughter. The end.

I think this is pretty much a comic parody of that sort of mellodrama. The way I’ve seen is, one person takes all the parts, using a bow. For the villain, it goes on the upper lip as a moustache; for the heroine, it goes in the hair as a bow, for the hero, it goes as a bow tie.

Don’t know who originated the routine, though.

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

The first time I remember seeing it was in the 70’s on the original “Zoom” TV show. Anyone recall an appearance earlier than this.

(BTW, if you’re not familiar with this, the bow is traditionally made by fan-folding a piece of paper and holding it in the middle.)

A cultural archetype; one which teaches children to kowtow unquestioningly to the powers of the property-owning heirarchy, and which reinforces the belief that the horrors of homelessness will befall those who don’t obey the rules of the banking-class puppetmasters, who themselves and out of spite for the working man perpetuate the shame-myth of being not as wealthy as they … oops sorry, feeling a little Unabomber today.

I think RC and mrknowitall are just about right on this; I remember the ZOOM bit, the Snidely Whiplash-esque landlord says “But you …” and the girl says “But I …” and so on back and forth until the sugar daddy arrives …

… which teaches young girls that only a man with money can make their lives complete, and that they themselves might as well be out on the street unless they find a man to take care of th-SLAP shaddup RTA

The way I remember the melodramas( these things were highly popular in the 19th cent. now they are usually parodied in cartoons, Mighty Mouse, " Tom, Dick and Larry,theDover{?} Boys " and the bow routine which I can remember from the late 50’s)is that Oilcan Harry could care less about reposessing the land. He wants the poor widowed sod busters beeyootiful dotter.So if you can’t pay the rent we’ll make other arraingements. " Heh Heh HEH!" Along comes our ruggedly handsome hero who foils the plot, which drives the dastardly villian insane and he begins tying up the ingenue in all kinds of creative ways.The moral is if you want to impress chicks you need either looks or money and power. Unless she is into B&D.

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

OP rewritten to conform to Ontario Landlord-Tenant laws:

Villain: Pay the rent!!

Damsel: But I can’t pay the Rent!

Villain: Damn. Oh well, I guess I’l just go shove this broomstick further up my rectum.
In other words, something needs to be done. We, as landlords, can’t just have the person evicted if they don’t pay the rent. We can ask them to move out and not much more. We coud, theroetically, sue them, but as the saying goes, you can’t squeeze blood from and asshole, er, stone.

“C’mon, it’s not even tomorrow yet…” - Rupert

If you need a graphic solution, http:\ alk.to\Piglet

Yeah, well, in Montreal you can’t be evicted during the winter, which is only humane. Similarly, a friend tells me that you can’t have your power disconnected in summer in Austin, for fear of roasting debtors.

Well, back when I was a young and lovely lass, I acted in a few melodramas (no, NOT when they were new . . . I left myself open for that one).

If done straight and not for laffs, they are still very effective–the well-written ones, that is. There are lots of 19th century acting techniques I had to learn, like upstage freezes, only speaking when moving, etc.

In one, I played a villainess from the Big City, and my favorite line was, “You are still my husband–I could not stand by and see you [dramatic pause] Shot Down Like a Dog!”

SUCH fun!

If you can get your hands on a copy of John Willie’s ADVENTURES OF SWEET GWENDOLINE, do.

It’s a mid-20th century graphic-novel parody of the above melodramatic scenarios, originally published in BIZARRE magazine, with the villainous D’Arcy D’Arcy and the Countess in the heavy roles, and Sweet Gwen, of course, as the ingenue.

The accent is on, er, the tying-up parts.


I’ll second MrKnowItAll’s “Zoom” reference. IIRC, they had a kid acting out all the parts, moving the bow to his upper lip, hair, or neck, depending on which character he was saying the line for. Then, they showed a mock-20s-silent movie clip where the melodrama was acted out. I never saw any references to it before that, although it may have something to do with the fact that I was about 5 when I saw that Zoom episode.

So everyone can just live rent-free in Ontario?

For what it’s worth, it’s usually “mortgage” in America, but “rent” in the UK.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

I’m not sure exactly where the phrases come from but here in Vero Beach, Florida if you can’t pay the rent - the landlord serves you with a 3 day notice of eviction. You send the landlord a note stating that you can’t move in such a short time. He sends you via law enforcement a notarized eviction paper giving you 5 days to vacate. You go see a lawyer – legal aid – who shows you how to register a protest or request for delay. One copy goes to the Clerk of the Court, one copy goes via mail to the land lord and you keep a copy. You gain time that way. usually within 2 weeks you get a notice from the court either giving you more time or not. Mostly, giving you more time. You ALSO carefully check original notice for any flaws - like errors in initial security deposit, date served and so on because ANY error can require that the landlord REDO the notice of eviction and RESERVE it which gains you more time. Then you locate a place and move. During this time you are not required to pay rent.

The judge may just toss the notice of eviction out, requiring the landlord to reserve also. The landlord may take you to court over the past due rent. If he takes you to small claims court and wins, there is not much he can do to actually force you to pay him.

You may be evicted at any time of the year in Florida. Your power company may also terminate your service at any time of the year. They are not required to check back on you to determine if you can afford any power at all.

You may live in your house without power, which in the city means no water also. IF a city inspector happens by and discovers this, you will be required to vacate the property as it will be considered unsafe. It is apparently felt that living in a home with no power or water is unhealthy, while living out of one’s car on the street is safer.

“Think of it as Evolution in action.”

AHHH, SWEET GWYNN . the tying up parts were popular in the originals too. Fact there was a lot of gratuitous tying up in some. Let us not forget Simon Legree and a melodrama that polarized a nation. Takes 30 days to all the legal bit of evicting some one in Texas, i think, never happened to me. Ah, Ms McFlimsey, the sweetest Flora in all the garden , leave that dog and allow me to introduce you to my friend Hank O’Hemp and I’ll tear up this mortgage.Nyah nyah nyah.

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

I don’t recall the Zoom show but I do recall this scene in a western movie. Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything else about the movie. Actually, it could have easily been an episode of Bonanza or Gunsmoke (or High Chaparral or Death Vally Days or…).

Anyway, one character had a folded piece of paper as Mr. Knowitall described but he was simply moving it from the side of his head to his upper lip without talking. Finally, someone asked him what he was doing and he spoke the dialog. Such was family entertainment in the '60’s.

Well Cooper, unfortunately for landlords everywhere, that is not far from the truth. There are those up here who are professional tenants. Once they get in, with their security deposit paid and whatnot, they stop paying the rent. The landlord serves them with an eviction notice, they have six weeks go to legal aid and they contest the notice. This gives them about six months before a court date can be set. If they don’t contest it, they will be kicked out by the “sherriff” after those six weeks, end of story. But if they do, you’re basically in a very long legal battle during which time the tenant is under no requirement to pay their rent. THe landlord can sue, so if you have money and possesions and whatnot, i wouldn’t suggest it, but if you are destitute, then by al means, go for it. Just not in my parent’s building.

“C’mon, it’s not even tomorrow yet…” - Rupert

If you need a graphic solution, http:\ alk.to\Piglet

In regards to the OP. That was definately the show Zoom.

Zoom may have been the first place a lot of people here saw it, but I think the bit is a lot older and probably from vaudeville.

“Niagara Falls! Slowly I turned, step by step…”

“There’s a hole in the bucket,
Dear father, dear father…”