Make Me a Star (1932): Hollywood Fable Starring Joan Blondell and Stuart Erwin, and Many Cameos by Chevalier, Cooper, Colbert

Screenwriters Saul Mintz, Walter De Leon and Arthur Kober based their witty scenario on Henry Leon Wilson’s 1922 novel “Merton of the Movies,” the 1923 Broadway play by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, and the 1924 Famous Players silent version starring Glenn Hunter.

Joan Blondell, borrowed from Warner, earned top-billing in this delightful Hollywood parable, but the real star is of course Stuart Erwin as the irrepressible Merton Gill.

Gill, a grocery clerk who longs to be a film star, goes off to Hollywood. He gets into a big studio by telling a casting director that he has a diploma from a correspondence school of acting.   Crashing the gates of Majestic Pictures (standing in for Paramount), Merton manages to fumble his one line bit in the latest Buck Benson (Dink Templeton) western and is fired on the spot.

Unwilling to leave the studio, the hapless thespian survives on leftover scraps from the extra’s lunch boxes until discovered by comedy starlet “Flip” Montague (Blondell), who takes pity on him and arranges a meeting with Jeff Baird (Sam Hardy), head of the slapstick comedy unit. Bestowed a new name, Whoop Ryder, Merton is starred in what he assumes to be a serious western melodrama but what in reality is yet another burlesque featuring cross-eyed low comic Ben Turpin.

But Merton is completely disillusioned when, at the preview, he realizes that he has performed like a buffoon.  Thinking he has failed, he decides to return home but is stopped by Flips, who convinces him that he has become a great success as a comic—“You’re.darn near perfect.”


Stuart Erwin (Merton Gill)

Joan Blondell (“Flips” Montague)

Zasu Pitts (Mrs. Scudder)

Ben Turpin (Ben)

Charles Sellon (Mr. Gashwiler)

Florence Roberts (Mrs. Gashwiler)

Helen Jerome Eddy (Tessie Kearns)

Arthur Hoyt (Hardy Powell)

Dink Templeton (Buck Benson)

Ruth Donnelly (The Countess)

Sam Hardy (Jeff Baird)

Oscar Apfel (Henshaw)

Frank Mills (Chuck Collins)

Polly Walters (Doris Randall)


Guest Stars (as themselves):

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



Running time: 70 Minutes.

Paramount Picture.

Director: William Beaudine.

Adaptation: Sam Wintz, Walter De Leon, Arthur Kober.

Camera: Allen Siegler.

Editor: Leroy Stone.

Sound Recorder: Earle S. Hayman.

Based on the book “Merton of the Movies” by Harry Leon Wilson and the subsequent play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.