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In 1915, Kansas theatre usher Merton Gill is a rabid silent-movie fan. When he brings Mammoth Studios free publicity by imitating star Lawrence Rupert's heroics, they bring him to Hollywood to generate another headline; he thinks he'll get a movie contract. Disillusioned, he haunts the casting offices, where he meets and is consoled by Phyllis Montague, bit player and stunt-woman. When Merton finally gets his "break," though, it's not quite what he envisioned... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was Virginia O'Brien's final starring role and the last film she made for MGM. After this she had small roles in two later films but otherwise retired from the screen. See more »
[Introducing Merton to champagne]
It's made of grapes... like fruit juice. The Frenchman that sold it to me explained the whole thing one night. We... well, ordered a boat load.
See more »
Poorly plotted slapstick comedy pays half-hearted homage to the silent movie days, but still manages several funny scenes
Merton Gill (Red Skelton) is an usher from Tinkerton, Kansas, who yearns to be a movie actor and thinks his worthless diploma from the Budolph School of Dramatic Acting will help him realize his dream. When Merton foils a robbery - supposedly using the skills he learned from his idol, Lawrence Rupert - the fading film star's gun-toting lackeys bring Merton to Hollywood to drum up some much-needed publicity. But after a speedy photo shoot, Rupert and his underlings are through with the country bumpkin and give him a ticket back home. A resolute Merton remains in Hollywood and does his best to get a job at Mammoth Studio, where he befriends the famous Beulah Baxter's stunt double, Phyllis Montague (Virginia O'Brien). Merton proves to be a natural - if unintentional - comedian and gets a job burlesquing Lawrence Rupert. Only Merton thinks he is playing a serious part.
This poorly plotted slapstick comedy pays half-hearted homage to the silent movie days and does a particularly indifferent job of recreating Keystone-style antics in the climax. There are several funny sequences, including a scene at a men's club and another in which Beulah Baxter (Gloria Grahame) attempts to get Merton drunk - but they have little to do with movie-making.
The romantic angle is surprisingly affecting. Skelton does an adorable job with a sometimes irritatingly naive character, and the quirky Virginia O'Brien gives her character three times what it deserves.
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