An unimpressive but well intending man is given the chance to marry a popular actress, of whom he has been a hopeless fan. But what he doesn't realize is that he is being used to make the actress' old flame jealous.
Gopher City Kansas hosts a beauty contest. The winner, Elvira Plunkett, and her mother go to Hollywood. The Chamber of Commerce also provides Elvira with an agent, Gopher City's own Elmer J. Butz. Elmer likes Elvira and the shy Elvira likes him, but Mrs. Plunkett, a formidable woman, has little use for hapless Elmer. On the train west, they meet movie star Larry Mitchell, who takes a shine to Elvira and helps her meet MGM directors once they get to Tinsel Town. Elmer, meanwhile, wants to help Elvira with her career and he also wants to be her man. Movie stardom does come to the Gopher City entourage, but to whom is a surprise. And who will win the lovely Elvira's hand? Written by
The three main characters of the film - Elmer Butts, and Elvira and Ma Plunkett - come to Hollywood from Gopher City, Kansas. Trixie Friganza, who plays Ma Plunkett, was in fact from Kansas. Buster Keaton, who plays Elmer Butts, was also born in Kansas. See more »
When Larry orders his car, a visible mike descends from the upper right hand corner of the frame while he says his line, then rises out of sight again. See more »
A FREE AND EASY, hapless young man escorts Miss Gopher City, Kansas & her unspeakable mother out west to Hollywood, where they hope to make her a big time movie star. Fate, however, in the shape of a handsome movie actor, intervenes...
With the end of the Silent Era, and Keaton no longer in control of his own career, FREE AND EASY was to be his first talking picture. While certainly not a classic, it has a certain small charm of its own and Keaton does a valiant job to provide both laughs & pathos. It is really not fair to compare Keaton's sound films with his silent masterpieces. They were two very different art forms.
It is great fun to watch Buster stumble about the MGM lot, leaving chaos in his wake wherever he goes. Although there are awkward moments of staging, due largely to the restrictions of the microphone, Keaton's genius still shines through. He is given wonderful support from mammoth vaudeville veteran Trixie Friganza, as the ghastly stage mother. With her booming voice & facile face, she is able to steal scenes even from Keaton. They are hilarious together in their `Oh King! Oh Queen!' musical number.
Lovely Anita Page, as Miss Gopher City, gets small chance to do anything here besides look lovely. But Robert Montgomery, as the movie actor, gets to show-off some of the charm that would very soon make him a major star.
Verisimilitude is added to Keaton's chaotic adventures in Hollywood by peppering the scenes with real celebrities from the era appearing as themselves. Movie mavens should have fun spotting them: directors Cecil B. DeMille, Fred Niblo & Lionel Barrymore, as well as Jackie Coogan, Karl Dane, Dorothy Sebastian, John Miljan, Gwen Lee and 1930's top box office male, William Haines. That's Edward Brophy as the Stage Manager.
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