A penniless song writer, Larry Earl, is convinced he is going places in shown business, and convinces Mary, an assistant at an orphanage, to marry him. Fifteen months later they are still in love, but broke as Larry writes songs that won't sell and loses one job after another one. He stops to watch a group of newsboys singing and dancing, and decides to organize them into the greatest kid act to ever hit vaudeville. Mary persuades Proctor, a big theatrical manager, to book the act, and they are a big hit. Then Larry and his publicity agent, "Speed" King, launch a big publicity stunt---a talent train in which they travel across country holding auditions for young performers. Back in New York, Carlotta Salvini, an ex-OPera singer, brings in her talented fourteen-year-old-daughter, Jane, who has an amazing voice. Larry, to get the mother out of the way, offers Carlotta a forty-week vaudeville tour, and then goes to work to make a star out of Jane, by building Braodway's first all-kiddie ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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. See more »
When Paramount decided to make The Star Maker, stage mothers all over the country must have been grateful for the opportunity to get their little pride of joys a break into show business. Bing Crosby who had some of his best film moments with children never had to contend with so many of them.
The beginning credits state quite plainly that the film is "suggested by the career of Gus Edwards." Crosby's character is named Larry Earl so no one gets the idea this is biographical.
Gus Edwards was one of America's finest turn of the last century songwriters who did in fact hit on the idea of forming a theatrical troupe of talented youngsters, many of whom became stars in their own right in adulthood. Coming to mind immediately are Eddie Cantor and George Jessel who started out as adolescents with Edwards.
One of the scenes funniest moments involves a bit by Billy Gilbert trying to get one of his kids an audition. Of course that's redundant because Billy Gilbert was one of the funniest men in film and any moment with him is by definition, funny. Another moment involves a mother trying to get her daughter to sing for Crosby, giving him the opportunity to warble, I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now. I'm sure the real Gus Edwards went through thousands of moments like these.
Young Linda Ware was introduced here, presumably as Paramount's answer to Deanna Durbin. She sang some classical stuff real nice, but after another film was never heard from again.
Next to Ned Sparks, W.C. Fields was a Pollyanna, especially with children. Sparks was another of Hollywood's funniest men with those lines dripping with sarcasm and ill will. He has one very funny scene trying to read a bedtime story to Crosby's traveling troupe.
Jimmy Monaco and Johnny Burke wrote some new tunes for Bing and these were mixed in with some stuff by Gus Edwards and others of the period in a nice confection.
Others in the cast include Louise Campbell as Mrs. Crosby, Laura Hope Crews as Ware's mother and Thurston Hall as a theatrical producer.
Ms. Crews had a banner year in 1939, she was given her signature part as Aunt Pittypat Hamilton in Gone With The Wind.
One of the things I always criticize Paramount for is not giving Crosby's films the elaborate Busby Berkeley like numbers. Same is true here, especially with the show business background of the film. But I think that kind of theatrics would have overwhelmed the story about children.
I won't dispute Paramount when they say this is only suggested by Gus Edwards career.
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