Make Me a Star/Merton of the Movies [DVD]

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Synopsis

Make Me a Star
Joan Blondell, borrowed for the occasion from Warner Bros., earned top-billing in this delightful Hollywood parable, but the real star is of course Stuart Erwin as the irrepressible grocery clerk Merton Gill. Paramount screenwriters Saul Mintz, Walter De Leon and Arthur Kober based their witty scenario on Henry Leon Wilson's 1922 novel Merton of the Movies, the 1923 Broadway play by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, and the 1924 Famous Players silent version starring Glenn Hunter. By 1932, the story was indeed well-known: Aspiring to become a famous screen cowboy, small-town delivery boy Merton Gill arrives in Hollywood, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and complete with a diploma from the National Correspondence Academy of Acting. Crashing the gates of Majestic Pictures (read: Paramount), Merton manages to fumble his one line bit in the latest Buck Benson (Dink Templeton) western and is fired on the spot. Unwilling to leave the studio, the hapless thespian survives on leftover scraps from the extra's lunch boxes until discovered by comedy starlet "Flip" Montague (Blondell), who takes pity on him and arranges a meeting with Jeff Baird (Sam Hardy), head of the slapstick comedy unit. Bestowed a new name, Whoop Ryder, Merton is starred in what he assumes to be a serious western melodrama but what in reality is yet another burlesque featuring cross-eyed low comic Ben Turpin. Although a big hit with preview audiences, a humiliated Merton is ready to return to the grocery business when "Flip" persuades him to stay by telling him that he is "darn near perfect." ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Merton of the Movies
The George S. Kaufman-Marc Connelly play Merton of the Movies was previously filmed in 1923 with Glenn Hunter, and in 1932 (as Make Me a Star) with Stu Erwin. This time around, Red Skelton plays Merton, the small-town rube who aspires to become a dramatic actor in silent pictures. Bumbling his way into Hollywood, he lays waste to several movie sets before he finally lands a screen test. When his histrionic efforts are greeted with derisive laughter, Merton slinks away disappointed and disillusioned-only to re-emerge triumphant as moviedom's newest comedy sensation! In one of her few non-musical appearances, deadpan comedienne Virginia O'Brien plays Phyllis "Flips" Montague, the warmhearted Hollywood stunt girl who befriends and eventually falls in love with the hapless Merton. Reportedly, Buster Keaton supplied a few of the film's sight gags, but apparently not enough to permit Merton of the Movies to rise above mediocrity and predictability. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Stuart Erwin
    Stuart Erwin - Merton Gill
  • Joan Blondell
    Joan Blondell - "Flips" Montague
  • ZaSu Pitts
    ZaSu Pitts - Mrs. Scudder
  • Image coming soon
    Ben Turpin - Ben
  • Image coming soon
    Charles Sellon - Mr. Gashweiler

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