Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Film collectors take note: Hal Roach's Pick a Star is not a Laurel and Hardy picture, though the popular comic duo does make a brace of amusing cameo appearances halfway through the film. A remake of Buster Keaton's Free and Easy, this is the story of how small-town gas-station owner Joe Jenkins (Jack Haley) tries to help his sweetheart Cecilia Moore (Rosina Lawrence) realize her ambition to become a movie star. At the behest of travelling entrepreneur Stone (Russell Hicks), Jenkins organizes a talent contest, the first prize being a trip to Hollywood and a screen test. When Stone turns out to be a crook and skips town with the proceeds of the contest, Cecilia is heartbroken, but Joe promises to go to Hollywood himself and make the right connections to assure her rise to stardom. Alas, the best Joe can manage in Tinseltown is a busboy job at the Colonial Club, a fact he tries to conceal from Cecilia and her wisecracking sister Nellie (Patsy Kelly) when they unexpectedly arrive in California as guests of movie-matinee idol Rinaldo Lopez (Mischa Auer). In desperation, Joe pretends to be a nightclub entertainer, but when this ruse is revealed, Cecilia angrily walks out on him, accompanying Rinaldo first to his movie studio and then to his apartment. Naturally Rinaldo has seduction on his mind, but innocent Cecilia doesn't realize this until Joe storms into the apartment with blood in his eye. Ashamed for his lascivious behavior, Rinaldo arranges for Cecilia to have a screen test for producer Klawheimer (Charles Halton). At the last moment, Cecilia suffers an attack of "camera fright," but Joe gently coaches her through her test, and there's a happy ending for all concerned -- even for sister Nellie, who's been relentlessly cynical about the storyline from first scene to last. Cast as "movie stars," Laurel and Hardy show up briefly in the movie-studio scenes to participate in a reciprocal-destruction sequence with their old screen nemesis Walter Long, and to perform an amusing musical routine with "dueling" harmonicas. Pick a Star has been reissued as Movie Struck, while the Laurel & Hardy scenes were released separately to TV as the ersatz two-reeler A Day at the Studio.
audition, behind-the-scenes, contest, country-girl, fame, fantasy, reality, stars [celebrities], success