Make Me a Star (1932): Beaudine’s Pre-Code Romantic Comedy, Joan Blondell and Stuart Erwin

William Beaudine directed Make Me a Star, a pre-Code romantic comedy, starring Joan Blondell, Stuart Erwin and ZaSu Pitts.

Make Me a Star
Make Me a Star (film).jpg

The film is a remake of the 1924 silent film Merton of the Movies, based on the 1922 novel of that name, and the 1923 play adaptation by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly.

Erwin plays a small-town delivery boy Merton Gill, longing to be a cowboy actor. He arrives in Hollywood, bright-eyed and with a diploma from the National Correspondence Academy of Acting, but, as it turned out, no skills to prove.

Actress Flips gives him a chance in a bit part, but he fails in that.  However, the way he fails makes her think he could be a good comedian. She persuades the studio to put him in a western parody, not telling him what they’re really planning.

He crashes the gates of Majestic Pictures Merton, and manages to fumble his one line bit in the latest Buck Benson (George Templeton) Western, which prompts his being fired.

All the characters, especially Erwin and Joan Blondell are sympathetic, turning the picture into a loving tribute to Hollywood and its artists as a place that’s more than a ruthless industry with high-paid employees.

The scene in which Blondell takes the hungry and unshaven Merton to a coffee shop for a nice breakfast, and his monologue about his “inside dream” to become an actor, are particularly touching.

It was remade again in 1947.

Joan Blondell as ‘Flips’ Montague
Stuart Erwin as Merton Gill
ZaSu Pitts as Mrs. Scudder
Ben Turpin as Ben
Charles Sellon as Mr. Gashwiler
Florence Roberts as Mrs. Gashwiler
Helen Jerome Eddy as Tessie Kearns
Arthur Hoyt as Hardy Powell
George Templeton as Buck Benson
Ruth Donnelly as The Countess
Sam Hardy as Jeff Baird
Oscar Apfel as Henshaw

Cameo Appearances (as themselves)

Tallulah Bankhead
Clive Brook
Maurice Chevalier
Claudette Colbert
Gary Cooper
Phillips Holmes
Fredric March
Jack Oakie
Charles Ruggles
Sylvia Sidney


Directed by William Beaudine
Produced by B. P. Schulberg
Screenplay by Sam Mintz, Walter Deleon, Arthur Kober, based on Merton of the Movies and 1922 novel & play by Harry Leon Wilson, George S. Kaufman (play), Marc Connelly (play), Moss Hart (play)
Music by John Leipold
Cinematography Allen G. Siegler
Edited by Edward Dmytryk, LeRoy Stone

Produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures

Release date: July 1, 1932

Running time: 86 minutes


TCM showed the movie on March 2, 2021.