Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, April 18, 2008


MERTON OF THE MOVIES (1947). Director: Robert Alton.

Red Skelton stars as a movie usher, Merton Gill, with big dreams who winds up going to Hollywood and supposedly becoming protege of big star Lawrence Rupert (Leon Ames), who has no use for him. Befriended by a stunt woman, Phyllis (Virgina O'Brien), who also has ambitions, he winds up starring in parodies of Rupert's films -- only he thinks they're supposed to be serious. Not much of a "laugh out loud" movie but the picture is well-acted, good-natured and pleasant, with a happy wind-up for all. After Skelton, Gloria Grahame is the cast stand-out as sexy movie star Beulah Baxter, who at one point tries to "vamp" Merton. O'Brien is a perfectly pleasing leading lady with a certain elusive quality, yet ... somehow she lacks a certain oomph, although she's more than competent. She does show more emotion in this than she did as a singer (her funny shtick was to have an immobile face as she sang).

Verdict: pleasant time waster with nice performances and sentiment. **1/2.

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