When motion pictures were first developed commercially in the early years of the 20th century, they had a monumental impact all over the world. It was as important a phenomenon as the development of the internet today. Movie houses popped up in nearly every town across the US – as simple as hanging a sheet and setting up some chairs – and they were PACKED. The demand for more and more films created a prosperous industry of artists from which emerged the first MOVIE STARS. The fledgling industry proved so popular that it grew at an alarming rate – attracting a slew of young dreamers infatuated with the new technology. But the earliest films didn’t yet have the ability to produce sound. These “silent films” were easy to produce because you could be filming several different projects right next to each other without worrying about privacy. As a result, many studios produced literally hundreds of features every week. Sadly, most of these films have disappeared because of the fragile quality of the decaying early film stock. The phenomenon of silent films only lasted roughly 20 years. The first “talkies” began to appear in 1927, and the “silent era” ended almost overnight. In 1922, still several years before “talkies” emerged, Harry Leon Wilson wrote his serialized novel, MERTON OF THE MOVIES – a humorous behind-the-scenes look at this young film industry – as seen through the eyes of its biggest fan. It was an instant hit and turned into a bestselling book. George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, two Pulitzer prize-winning playwrights and members of the distinguished Algonquin Round Table of literary giants, adapted the book for the stage. It was even turned into a silent film of its own starring the original cast. Although the story has been filmed several times since with sound, none of the prints of the original silent version exist. At the center of the story is the struggle between the immense popularity of comedies versus the more serious pursuit of dramatic “art”. This is Merton’s journey. We’re delighted that you have decided to come along. Hope you enjoy MERTON OF THE MOVIES.
Scott Baron, Director