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Merton of the Movies (1924)

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Cast

Cast overview:
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Sadie Gordon ...
Gale Henry ...
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Elliott Rothe ...
Harold Parmalee
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Mrs. Montague
Frank Jonasson ...
Eleanor Lawson ...
Mrs. Patterson
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Taglines:

Not an expose of the "movies," but a story of love, reverses and ambition that can happen in any town. Glenn Hunter in the title role of his tremendous stage success, co-starred with Viola Dana. Fifty-two record breaking weeks in New York. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

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Release Date:

3 November 1924 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les gaietés du cinéma  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

The original Broadway production of "Merton of the Movies" by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly opened at the Cort Theatre on November 13, 1922 and ran for 392 performances. See more »

Connections

Version of Merton of the Movies (1947) See more »

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User Reviews

Hollywood hoo-ha
7 July 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

"Merton of the Movies" was originally a novel by Harry Leon Wilson, an extremely popular humour author in his day. Adapted as a stage play by Marc Connelly and George S. Kaufman, it became a Broadway smash which was filmed at least three times.

When we first see Merton Gill (played by handsome Glenn Hunter), he's a dashing swashbuckler cowboy. But this turns out to be a Walter Mitty-style fantasy. In fact, Merton is a moron: a gormless klutz who dreams of stardom as a dramatic actor but who has no talent and no brains. (I can think of several real-life movie stars who fit that description.)

Recruited by movie director Jeff (DeWitt Jennings) to do a very simple piece of business in a dramatic scene, Merton emotes hopelessly and causes a disaster. But the show-biz bug has bitten him, and now Merton goes to Hollywood in quest of stardom. Along the way, he has various misadventures ... especially with lovely brunette Sally Montague, who is nicknamed "Flips" because she used to be a juggler in vaudeville. In the Broadway version of "Merton", some of the best lines went to the wisecracking "Flips": in this film version, actress Viola Dana has to suffice with a few sarcastic tosses of her head between the sarcasms printed in the intertitles.

SPOILER: The pay-off is sadly predictable. Although Merton is a total no-chancer as a dramatic actor, his ineptitude is (supposedly) so hilarious that he blunders into a successful career as a comedian.

Rather a lot of movies have used this idea of the klutz who reaps comedy stardom by accident (Chaplin in "The Circus", Harold Lloyd in "Movie Crazy", Buster Keaton in the TV episode "The Silent Partner"), but I've always found it clichéd and implausible.

Gale Henry (an Olive Oyl lookalike) is very good in a supporting role, and there are good performances by Charles Ogle and by Charles Sellon: the latter actor is best-known as the blind man who terrorised W.C. Fields in "It's a Gift".

The silent-film version of "Merton of the Movies" is fitfully amusing, but not great. James Cruze's direction is excellent: Cruze's career is long overdue for re-appraisal. But the 1947 remake of "Merton", starring Red Skelton, is much funnier than this silent version. There's also an early talkie remake, "Make Me a Star", with Stu Erwin as Merton.


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