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It Pays to Advertise (1931)

To prove his thesis that any product--even one that doesn't exist--can be merchandized if it is advertised properly, a young man gets together with his father's savvy secretary to market a ... See full summary »



(adaptation), (play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast overview:
Mary Grayson
Ambrose Peale
Cyrus Martin
Countess de Beaurien (as Helen Johnson)
Thelma Temple
L.R. McChesney
Marcia Manners ...
Miss Burke
Office Boy (as Junior Coghlan)
John Howell ...
John Sinclair ...
Window Cleaner


To prove his thesis that any product--even one that doesn't exist--can be merchandized if it is advertised properly, a young man gets together with his father's savvy secretary to market a non-existent laundry soap. Complications ensue when his "product" turns out to be more successful than even he imagined--and now he has to deliver. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Release Date:

19 February 1931 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. However, because of legal complications, this particular title was not included in the original television package and may not have ever been televised. See more »


Version of It Pays to Advertise (1919) See more »

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User Reviews

This thing is hilarious...
11 December 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

...so don't believe the low rating.

Norman Foster plays Rodney Martin, playboy son to self made man Cyrus Martin (Eugene Palette), head of a soap company. Cyrus has paid 5000 dollars to his secretary, statuesque Mary Grayson (Carole Lombard), to make Rodney fall in love with her and therefore stop his silly publicity stunts that make dad look bad in the papers and go to work. Cyrus promises her another 5000 if the whole thing works out with Rodney being a serious working man.

Cyrus pretends to be outraged by the match, pretends to fire Mary, pretends to cut off Rodney without a cent if he goes through with any marriage to her, but it is all a ruse. But the ruse is about to get out of Cyrus' control.

Rodney meets up with slick publicity man Ambrose Peale (Skeets Gallagher), playing his usual mischievous part. Ambrose suggests they start on an advertising crusade for a product that doesn't even exist yet - "13 soap". It's named by Rodney and the name means "Our soap is an unlucky number for dirt". Rodney is determined to beat dad at his own business. So soon there are jingles, ads, billboards with pretty girls in bathtubs (this is the precode era - anything goes) all over town. But Rodney and Ambrose have spent so much money on making their product a household word they have nothing left to make a product with, much less pay the rent.

Cyrus is angry at the 13 Soap ads everywhere he looks, and a competitor accuses him of making his son's company a front for his own soap and withdraws from their mutual agreement not to get into advertising wars. Worse yet, Mary is falling for Rodney for real.

So Rodney has name recognition and no product and no money. Dad has a product, money, and no ad campaign. How will this all work out? Watch and find the humorous answer.

This is the beginning of Eugene Palette's grumpy roles, a type of character that he made famous in "My Man Godfrey" and "The Lady Eve" - the put upon self made man of industry with daffy relatives that don't know the value of a dollar. If you are expecting Carole Lombard the screwball comedienne to show up here, she has not found that persona yet. As for Skeets Gallagher, he was always fun whenever he showed up in early Paramount roles.

The only reason I can figure that this one doesn't have a higher rating is that the copy in general circulation is a poor print taken from old VHS tapes when it was shown on TV twenty or thirty years ago. That doesn't mean that the film is not clever and well done. I'd recommend it.

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