30 user 11 critic

Free and Easy (1930)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical | 22 March 1930 (USA)
A bumbling manager tries to get a small town beauty contest winner into the movies.


Edward Sedgwick


Richard Schayer (scenario), Paul Dickey (adaptation) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Buster Keaton ... Elmer Butts
Anita Page ... Elvira
Trixie Friganza ... Ma
Robert Montgomery ... Larry
Fred Niblo ... Director Fred Niblo
Edgar Dearing ... Studio Gate Guard
Gwen Lee ... Gwen Lee - Actress in Bedroom Scene
John Miljan ... John Miljan - Actor in Bedroom Scene
Lionel Barrymore ... Lionel Barrymore - Director of Bedroom Scene
William Haines ... William Haines - Guest at Premiere
William Collier Sr. ... William Collier Sr. - Master of Ceremonies at Premiere
Dorothy Sebastian ... Dorothy Sebastian - Actress in Cave Scene
Karl Dane ... Karl Dane - Actor in Cave Scene
David Burton David Burton ... Director DavidBurton


Gopher City Kansas hosts a beauty contest. The winner, Elvira Plunkett, and her mother go to Hollywood. The Chamber of Commerce also provides Elvira with an agent, Gopher City's own Elmer J. Butz. Elmer likes Elvira and the shy Elvira likes him, but Mrs. Plunkett, a formidable woman, has little use for hapless Elmer. On the train west, they meet movie star Larry Mitchell, who takes a shine to Elvira and helps her meet MGM directors once they get to Tinsel Town. Elmer, meanwhile, wants to help Elvira with her career and he also wants to be her man. Movie stardom does come to the Gopher City entourage, but to whom is a surprise. And who will win the lovely Elvira's hand? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The laughs, life and loves of the Hollywood Studios in the novelty sensation of years! (Print Ad- Poughkeepsie Eagle-News, ((Poughkeepsie, NY)) 28 April 1930) See more »


Comedy | Musical


Approved | See all certifications »





English | German

Release Date:

22 March 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Easy Go See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Retitled "Easy Go" in order to avoid confusion with the similarly titled 1941 MGM release, this film was first telecast in New York City on the Late, Late Show Monday 8 September 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2). See more »


When Larry orders his car, a visible mike descends from the upper right hand corner of the frame while he says his line, then rises out of sight again. See more »


Ma: You can make a fool of yourself, if you want. But, you can't make a fool of us, you sap!
See more »


Featured in Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow (1987) See more »


(1930) (uncredited)
Music by William Kernell
See more »

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User Reviews

What you think of it depends on your perspective...
13 June 2010 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

If you are looking for a study in early talking film and how MGM simply did not know how to utilize Buster Keaton, this is your movie. If you're looking for competition with Buster's great silents of the 20's look away and elsewhere. It's a 9 if you are in the first category, a 5 if you are in the second. I average the two together to get my rating of 7.

The story is a simple one - Anita Page is a small-town beauty contest winner from the Midwest - Elvira Plunkett. She and her mother (Trixie Friganza) along with Elvira's agent, Elmer Butts (Keaton) are taking the train out west where Elvira will seek a career in movies ... with no contacts ... and no name recognition. What follows are their adventures on the train and in Hollywood once they arrive at their destination. Probably nothing would have happened if not for the fact that Elvira and her mother wind up running into movie star Larry Mitchell (Robert Montgomery) on the train. Larry takes a shine to Elvira and thus gets her invited to his studio - MGM of course - for a look at how films are made.

This is the fascinating part. You get to see the actual MGM movie factory during the transition to sound. You see a completely inane and awful musical number - maybe intentionally so but I doubt it - that is exhibit A in why audiences rebelled against the early musicals. Poor Robert Montgomery is forced to dress up like a cossack and sing a duet. As Buster is chased through MGM by security guards you get a look at Lionel Barrymore directing a film - he did so for just a few years at MGM - complete with the camera blimps that allowed the cameras to emerge from the static booths and enabled more fluid motion in movies. You also get to see some of MGM's prominent directors of the time in conference, including Cecil B. De Mille who was employed there briefly at the dawn of sound.

Now for the bad part. Buster is forced into a grueling "who's on first" kind of verbal comedy scene at the middle of the film that simply didn't suit him, is generally depicted as a bumbler when he had always been the innovative problem solver in his silent films, and during the finale musical number his beautiful face is covered in ridiculous clown makeup. The finale musical number is actually pretty good with a catchy tune and Keaton dancing about like a pro, doing his familiar "Highland Fling" if you've seen some of his silents. However, at the very end of the number he emerges as a puppet on a string - emblematic of Keaton's career at MGM. At least the studio let Keaton speak his first film words in front of a train - his favorite film prop.

If you see this make sure you watch the documentary "So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM". It really helps put Keaton's MGM career in context and explains, as narrator James Karen says, "how Buster Keaton came to MGM as one of the greatest comics in the whole world, and ended up being regarded as totally unemployable just five years later."

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