Merton of the Movies (1924)

Merton Gill dreams of being a star of western films in Hollywood. When the filmmakers there see his acting style, they get their own idea of how to use his talent.

Director:

James Cruze

Writers:

Marc Connelly (play), George S. Kaufman (play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Glenn Hunter ... Merton Gill
Charles Sellon ... Pete Gashwiler
Sadie Gordon Sadie Gordon ... Mrs. Gaswiler
Gale Henry ... Tessie Kearns
Luke Cosgrave ... Lowell Hardy
Viola Dana ... Sally Montague, 'Flips'
DeWitt Jennings ... Jeff Baird
Elliott Rothe Elliott Rothe ... Harold Parmalee
Charles Ogle ... Mr. Montague
Ethel Wales ... Mrs. Montague
Frank Jonasson Frank Jonasson ... Henshaw
Eleanor Lawson Eleanor Lawson ... Mrs. Patterson
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Storyline

Merton Gill dreams of being a star of western films in Hollywood. When the filmmakers there see his acting style, they get their own idea of how to use his talent.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Go-Getter! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 November 1924 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Les gaietés du cinéma See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is presumed lost. Please check your attic. See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

Hollywood hoo-ha

"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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