Series: Feature

Director: Edward Sedgwick
Producer: Hal Roach
Story & Screenplay: Richard Flournoy, Arthur Vernon Jones, Thomas J. Dugan
Photography: Norbert Brodine
Editor: William Terhune
Art Director: Arthur I. Royce
Sound: William Randall

Stars: Patsy Kelly, Jack Haley, Rosina Lawrence, Mischa Auer, Lyda Robert, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 21 May 1937
Length: 8 reels
Production No.: F-15
Filming dates: November 16, 1936 - early January 1937
Rating: 5/10

Pick A Star

Available on DVD:

A beauty contest is being conducted by a talent scout (Russell Hicks) whereby the winner will not only win $2000 as a prize, but also a trip to Hollywood to appear in a movie courtesy of XL Pictures. As the nervous chairman Joe Jenkins (Jack Haley) takes to the stage, the scout is backstage arranging to smuggle the takings out of the building with an assistant.
One of the contestants recites a poem on the stage, whilst another lady, Cecilia Moore (Rosina Lawrence) sings. The two crooks leave through the back and make their getaway with the takings, leaving the chairman to explain to the winner (Cecilia) that there is no prize money to give her now. The sheriff (Sam Adams) is called but quickly dismissed by Cecilia's sister (Patsy Kelly) when he fails to do his job ("oh do your duty and go back to sleep", she tells him in typical Patsy Kelly comedy fashion.)
Racked with guilt, Joe takes a job working in the kitchen at The Colonial Club in Hollywood in order to get contacts, after telling Cecilia she deserves to go to Hollywood and become a star. He gets off to an awkward start when he arrives late for work and is told off by the steward. Joe tells his friend Tony of how he wants to bring Cecilia to Hollywood, as she listens to a radio broadcast at home, live from where he is working.
The sound of the evening is broken by an aeroplane which lands nearby. Several locals rush out of their homes into the night to be nosey. The girls, or rather Cecilia, is excited to see that the aircraft is carrying Rinaldo Lopez (Mischa Auer), a famous Hollywood star. Cecilia invites him, and the other passengers into her home as they await re-take off. After telling Lopez her story of how she was destined for Hollywood, one of the other passengers overhears and offers her two tickets for Hollywood, glad to be rid of them.
Nellie freaks out and demands answers from Cecilia, who stubbornly refuses to let the opportunity pass her by. Nellie accepts the free ticket and together the sisters board the plane, though Nellie does so nervously. The next morning Joe receives a phone call informing him of their arrival and later meets them at a hotel, where Lopez has sent some flowers for Cecilia. That evening the sisters dine at the Colonial Club, unaware that Joe is working there as a waiter. When Joe spots the girls at their table, he quickly improvises by taking to the floor where an entertainment artist is performing a sing and dance routine. He tries desperately to conceal the real purposes of his being there by pretending to be part of the act, but is later fired by the boss.

Joe tries to reason with Cecilia by explaining his actions but she leaves with Rinaldo. Joe follows them outside and has the good fortune to be run over by a car carrying the one man he has been hoping to talk to: Mr. Klawheimer (Charles Halton). Joe asks him for a job, and is sent to the studio. In a strange twist of coincidence, that is exactly where the girls have gone with Rinaldo.
The girls arrive to see a production being shot featuring the famous Dagmar (Lyda Roberti), who is singing a number on the set.
Afterwards, two familiar-looking chaps by the names of Laurel and Hardy appear on set for instructions - from none other than James Finlayson! An elaborate number then takes place on the stage with hundreds of extras singing and dancing. Afterwards Rinaldo escorts Cecilia out of the building, whilst Nellie stays on to watch more filming.
Stan and OIlie appear dressed as Mexicans to shoot a bar-room scene. They enter the set and intimidate the most of the extras, except for one man sitting at the bar (familiar foe, Walter Long). He retaliates to having bottles smashed over his head by the Boys. Thrilled by the comic spectacle, Nellie goes over to converse with Stan and Ollie and asks if it hurts to have a glass bottle smashed over one's head. They encourage her to try it on them. Of course when she does it she picks up a real bottle and the guys end up on the floor.
Rinaldo has taken Cecilia back to his apartment and is pursued by Joe. Rinaldo gets very comfortable, slipping into a gown and offering his guest a drink and wooing her with soft lighting and boasts of his wealth. He gives her a ring, but when she mistakes this as a sign of engagemnet Rinaldo freaks out. Joe and Nellie arrive in the nick of time to rescue her and leave, but only after Rinaldo offers to get Cecilia a screen test.
The next day at the studio, Cecilia is in the make-up chair as Stan and Ollie sit in an adjacent room playing harmonicas (see "favourite bit"). For the next four minutes the film technically just dies, despite the obvious brilliance of that scene. It is very poorly edited in and doesn't belong within the context of the fearture.
Cecilia takes to the set for her singing rehersal but she fails to impress everybody. Joe appears from the sidelines and encourages her to carry on, and asks her to play piano whilst he sings. She imagines an orchestra playing around her as she performs her song, "Pick A Star". The performance brings about approval from the film-makers, though Rinaldo seems to dump her in favour of a flirty woman backstage. The film ends with Nellie's expression of "good riddance"!

Favourite bit
In a sequence that totally does not belong or fit into the film, it is with great reluctance that I nominate the harmonica scene with Laurel and Hardy. Stan is playing a tiny trumpet as Ollie tries to relax. It's absolutely fantastic to watch. At first the instrument seems fine until the last note, which eventually comes out as a squeak. Not content with this, Stan goes one further by continuing to play it with a trombone sound emitting from it. The bass is so powerful it blows the rug up and causes an explosion in the room. It is so silly it's incredibly funny!

Copyrighted May 18, 1937.
Laurel and Hardy's scenes were shot at the same time as they were filming Way Out West. In fact, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Rosina Lawrence and May Wallace appeared in both films.
Re-released February 1, 1954 as "Movie Struck". An abbreviated version of the film was called "A Day At The Studio".
This was the fourth and last time that Lyda Roberti worked with Patsy Kelly. They had previously starred together in two 1936 short films to fulfill the Todd/Kelly series after Thelma Todd's death in 1935. And then again in the feature, Nobody's Baby (1937). Lyda herself died less than ten months after this film was released, aged only 31.
Laurel & Hardy have three scenes and their total on-screen time amounts to exactly 7 minutes 39 seconds (=459 seconds). The complete film, with credits runs 69 minutes 32 seconds (=4172 seconds). This means that Laurel & Hardy are in exactly 11.0% of the film.
- walking onto the set and talking with James Finlayson @ 39:55-40:27 (32 seconds continuous);
- as Mexicans, shooting a bar-room scenes with Walter Long @ 44:57-48:08 (with 23 seconds of cut-aways);
- sitting together playing instruments @ 58:44-63:12 (with 6 seconds of cut-aways).
The Waterloo Silver Coronet Band from Kansas are the orchestra at the talent contest in the opening scene.
L&H veteran Otto Fries appears in the opening scenes as a judge for the contest. He is seen holding his top hat in his hands.
The song sung by Rosina Lawrence at the beginning of the film is called "Pick A Star".
Joe clocks in at the Colonial Club late, at 8:07pm. But in the next shot, the clock says 8:05pm.
When Cecilia is at home listening to the radio, she suddenly stands up and starts singing (just as Nellie comes home). Look at how thin her waist is!
In the radio announcement, the announcer says, "I wish all you folks listening in could be here tonight. Why, I could stand here at the microphone and I can reach out and touch Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Robert Taylor and a dozen others." Jean Harlow would die 17 days after this film was released. Actually, there is a pretty funny add-on to this line.... Nellie tells her sister, "tell him to reach out and touch Clark Gable for me". Cecilia replies, "Oh it must be wonderful to be pointed out" / Nellie: "Dillinger didn't think so!"
The aeroplane that lands in the field is an American Airlines plane.
The plane tickets to Hollywood cost $350.
If one walked in at the wrong time during a screening of the film, they may be taken back when Patsy Kelly tells a young man to "go downstairs and do it with your wife!"
The lady who plays the wife of the drunk is Wilma Cox. She was the real-life partner of Patsy Kelly. Although they both appeared in the film they were never in the same scenes together.
Laurel and Hardy first appear in the film after 40 minutes.
At around 41 minutes, there is a very risqué shot showing a close-up of a woman unfolding her legs, where her underwear is clearly seen. Yes, I noticed that!
Rinaldo tells Cecilia that his last film was called "Revenge Of The Leopard".
When Cecilia is in the make-up chair and the assistants are attending to her and removing her stockings, she deliberately holds her skirt tight across her left knee.
My opinion
An enjoyable comedy, much better than you'd expect. As good as the Laurel and Hardy scenes are, they are out of place here and ruin the continuity and smooth running of the film.

Patsy Kelly
Nellie Moore
Jack Haley
Joe Jenkins
Rosina Lawrence
Cecilia Moore
Mischa Auer
Rinaldo Lopez
Lyda Roberti
Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Russell Hicks
Mr. Stone
Al Williams
Spencer Charters
Contest Judge Pike
Otto Fries
Contest Judge
Margie Roanberg
Miss Gopher City
Brooks Benedict
Sam Adams
Cully Richards
Nightclub M.C.
Si Jenks
Deaf old timer
Barbara Weeks
May Wallace
Eddie Clayton
Robert Glecker
Head waiter
Eddie Kane
Albert, head waiter
Jack Norton
Oscar the Souse
Wilma Cox
Oscar's wife
Charles Halton
Julius Klawheimer
Don Brodie
Film director
Tom Dugan
Dimitri Hogan
Bob O'Connor
Actor who warns bar-room extras
Jack Hill
Actor in bar-room scene
James Finlayson
Charlie Hall
Assistant director
Walter Long
Fay Holderness
Willie's mother
Robert Winkler
Willie (boy)
Marvin Hatley
Oboe player
Elaine Shepard
Woman backstage
Bill Madsen
Cecilia's hair stylist
John Hyams
Mr. McGregor
Leila McIntyre
Mrs. McGregor
Benny Burt
Lew Davis
Nelson McDowell
Jefferson Watts, undertaker
Mary Gordon
Undertaker's wife
  Charles Sullivan
Joyce Compton
Johnny Arthur
John Alban
Wesley Barry
Assistant director
Lois Verner
Freckled-face girl in audience
Mary Dees
(Big production number)
Oliver Cross
Nightclub patron

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Richard Finegan (photo line-up ID and several stills)
Laurel And Hardy: The Lobby Cards and Laurel And Hardy: Lobby Cards And Posters II by Irv Hyatt
Rick Greene (lobby card)
Ian Tiso (identification of Marvin Hatley's instrument)

This page was last updated on: 08 September 2021