It Works

'Pick a Star'

by Michael Barrett

18 May 2012

cover art

Pick a Star

Director: Edward Sedgwick
Cast: Patsy Kelly, Jack Haley

USDVD release date:

There are two reasons to watch this film: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. As in Hollywood Party (another recent release in the Warner Archive made-on-demand line), they drop by late in the proceedings and steal the show, not that the rest of the show isn’t perfectly enjoyable in its own light-headed way. There’s a brainless, unimportant heroine (Rosina Lawrence) who wins a beauty contest and wants to go to Hollywood to be a star. There’s her brainless boyfriend (Jack Haley) who tries to make it happen by working as a busboy. There’s a sassy gal-pal (top-billed Patsy Kelly) who’s around to make caustic comments, and there’s a stuck-up star (Mischa Auer) who pitches woo to the heroine but turns out to be all right for a sleazy masher.

And then there’s Laurel and Hardy, playing “themselves” while behaving exactly the same behind the scenes as in front of the cameras. In their first bit, they act in a bar fight sequence for a movie and then discuss the breakaway prop bottles. In their second and last scene, they’re sitting around behind the set in a sequence that might be called “duelling harmonicas”. Their mastery of timing and schtick in unquestionable; Hardy’s exasperated, complicit glances at the audience still feel modern. The entire movie is a loosely strung collection of genial absurdities from the small town to the big city, and it has no goal or function besides raising a few smiles and laughs. In that, it works.

Pick a Star



We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.


//Mixed media

Trickle Down Corruption in 'This Is the Police'

// Moving Pixels

"In a world of hitmen, snitches, mobsters, murderers, terrorists, rapists, rioters, bombers, thieves, and serial killers, your greatest enemy is your boss.

READ the article