Despite an energetic come-on, the local kids are reluctant to
invest a penny to see the gang's matinee of Romeo and Juliet, so
ticket taker Alfalfa proposes an idea: if they like the show, they can
pay as they exit. He tells Spanky that the risk is small since he's
playing Romeo, but matinee-idol Alfalfa has been eating onions again (to
improve his voice) and this repels leading lady Darla, who walks out after
the first act. Spanky stalls for time while Alfalfa finds a new
Juliet; the show continues with Buckwheat as the new leading lady!
When Alfalfa climbs the ladder to "her" balcony, he starts to teeter
precariously. Spanky rings down the curtain, but Alfalfa and the
ladder fall right through the drapery onto the stage, as the kids file out.
"Great idea, pay as they exit," Spanky grumbles. "That's just what
they did," Alfalfa replies triumphantly, pouring the pennies into Spanky's
hands, and offering his pal an onion.
Pay As You Exit is a fast-moving short
with some pleasingly inventive frills on the usual
Our Gang putting-on-a-show formula. A kid-lettered sign outside
the barn proclaims the matinee of "Romyo and Juliet, by Spanky and
Shakespeer." Alfalfa's box office is actually an old car door,
enabling him to roll up a window which reads "Sold Out" after the kids go
As usual, the gang has made elaborate preparations for
their performance in the barn-theater. Porky sits at a phonograph
and provides appropriate background music* for every scene.
Painted backdrops and period costumes set the mood for Shakespeare's
love story. Spanky and Alfalfa even fight a well-staged duel to
the death (with Spanky spoiling his performance as a corpse by standing
up to take a bow). The only anachronism is the sudden appearance
of Buckwheat as a Nubian slave, to announce, "Miss Juliet, your Pappy's
When Alfalfa proposes love to Juliet, she recoils and
asks, "Have you been eating onions?" The rest of their scene is
played with the fair damsel holding her nose. When she walks out
in the middle of the show, Spanky tells Alfalfa, "I'll do my old act and
stall 'em off." Spanky's "old act" (presumably dating back to his
days in vaudeville?) is a strong-man routine where the realism of his
weight lifting is enhanced by having Porky drop cannonballs backstage in
synchronization with Spanky's dropping weights to the floor (a momentary
slip, dropping one of the lead balls when Spanky tosses away his
handkerchief, goes unnoticed by the audience.) The strongman is
defrauded, however, when his stagehand cleans up after the act and
blithely picks up the "hundred-pound weights" to cart them offstage.
Innocent Porky doesn't realize what he's done, and when Spanky says a
sarcastic "Thanks a lot," Porky replies characteristically, "O-tay!"
Alfalfa's replacement leading lady is first revealed when
he asks, "Juliet, where art thou?" and "she" replies, "Here I is!"
The jubilant crowd shouts, "It's Buckwheat" and gives him an ovation,
which he happily acknowledges. After Alfalfa's ladder falls away
from the balcony one time, he asks Buckwheat to hold onto it, but the
sudden whiff of onions makes him forget, and Alfalfa plunges to an
Exactly when everyone had the opportunity to rush up and
give Alfalfa their pennies is a point of time and logic the viewer is
not supposed to consider. When Alfalfa produces the ticket money,
the major conflict of the plot is resolved, and one simply doesn't ask
foolish questions...well, maybe just one. Off in the wings, is
Porky's devilish, knowing grin s the film fades to its end title
supposed to mean something special that's eluded us? A warehouse
in Nebraska has been reserved for letters of explication we expect to
A final note on Pay As You Exit involves the
casting of Joe Cobb as one of the neighborhood kids. Absent from
the series since Fish Hooky in 1933, Joe towers over the other
children and looks a little mature for the group. In fact, his
bulk smashed the front-row bench n half! Joe would find more
appropriate surroundings the following year in the gang's Reunion in
* Long-sought titles for familiar melodies include, in
order, "In My Canoe, "Furioso," "He Peddles His Bristles to Women," and
"Walking the Deck"—all
stock themes from the Hal Roach music library.