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A Movie Star (1916)

 -  Comedy | Short  -  26 January 1916 (USA)
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Just as the local movie theater is about to begin showing a picture, the star of the film arrives and comes to see the movie himself. On screen, the star must rescue his girl from danger. ... See full summary »


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Long after jilting his girlfriend, Mabel the kitchen maid, Mack is startled to see her onscreen at the local cinema.

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Cast overview:
Mack Swain ...
Handsome Jack - Screen Hero
Louella Maxam ...
Nell - Jack's Screen Sweetheart
Mai Wells ...
Jack's Screen Mother (as May Wells)
Ray Grey ...
Jack's Screen Rival
Phyllis Allen ...
Jack's Real Wife
Harry McCoy ...
One-Man Orchestra
Nick Cogley ...
Theatre Manager


Just as the local movie theater is about to begin showing a picture, the star of the film arrives and comes to see the movie himself. On screen, the star must rescue his girl from danger. In the theater, the star finds that not all of the audience admires his acting as much as he does. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

satire | hollywood | actor | See All (3) »


Comedy | Short





Release Date:

26 January 1916 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Film Hero  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Featured in Hollywood (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

The Cinema Experience
11 September 2005 | by See all my reviews

Keystone comedies aren't very funny anymore, and they were often crude even for their day, but Mack Sennett could be an intelligent filmmaker in addition to being an interesting businessman. He was dividing out his responsibilities in actually making the films by now, transforming Keystone into a more typical and efficient movie studio, but what makes "A Movie Star" remarkable can be seen in other Sennett comedies, such as "Mabel's Dramatic Career" (1913). That is, Sennett helped introduced self-referential humor to screen comedy--films that poke fun at themselves, other movies, movie-making and the other aspects surrounding the cinema experience--adding new dimensions and depth to the comedies.

"A Movie Star" isn't uproariously funny, but the comedy is thankfully not the completely unrefined and unsubtle knockabout slapstick one finds in other Keystone fare, especially the earliest ones. This short satirizes the egotistical movie star (well played by Mack Swain), their daft fans and the cheap nickelodeons. There's also a jealous boyfriend of a swooning idolater and a stodgy stage actor, which serves as a humorous antagonism to Swain's character, as all of them sit in the crowded, dinky theatre to view Swain's film-within-a film, "Big Hearted Jack": a Western romance presented by Thrill'Em Films.

The scene is wonderful, with shot transitions between the film, the audience and the audience watching the film, which is more elaborate than the simpler sequence in "Mabel's Dramatic Career". The film-within-the film parodies film conventions, namely of Westerns and melodramas, and Swain is delightful in mocking contemporary acting styles. Additionally, the sequence impressively creates an atmosphere of the movie-going experience, which becomes more powerful with the age of the film, which itself was recreating a recent past of the nickelodeon age. It adds to the sense of the wonder of cinema that it's mocking, and even displays the work that goes into showing films (the one-man orchestra, the projectionist and such). "A Movie Star" is a significant film in how it turns in on itself, and (unusual given the typically outdated Keystone slapstick) it has actually improved with age.

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