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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>
Virginia O'Brien did all of her own stunt work. 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.
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This isn't the best film Red Skelton ever made. That is probably either "The Fuller Brush Man" or maybe even when he was teamed with Fred Astaire in "Three Little Words". However, it is funny enough and very sweet. Skelton plays Merton Gill, an usher from a small town that dreams of making it big in films back in 1914. He unintentionally foils a robbery attempt at the theater where he works and attributes his success to his movie hero, Lawrence Rupert. Rupert's publicist thinks it would be good publicity for Rupert if Gill were invited to Hollywood for a few photos labeling Gill as Rupert's protégé. Unfortunately, Morton believes he really is Rupert's protégé and is disappointed when he is told to take a hike after the publicity campaign is over. He takes several stabs at making it in the movies, but his overacting and clumsiness get him ejected every time. What Morton doesn't know is that what is hideous acting in a drama is perfect for the slapstick comedies of the 1910's, and this leads to his big break. Skelton is perfect as the naive and easily rattled Merton, and Virginia O'Brien is very good as the stunt woman who ends up Merton's protector and love interest.
The original silent version of this film made in 1924 is lost, and one interview with Buster Keaton prior to 1924 had him saying that he would really like to make this film himself. He did in a way. He was an uncredited gag man on this and many of Skelton's other MGM films, and you can see the Keaton touch in several of the gags throughout the film. Recommended if you want to watch something that will make you laugh and also warm your heart.
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