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In May 1944, Hollywood Reporter reported that after purchasing the rights to Merton of the Movies from Paramount for $60,000, M-G-M slated the picture for a 1945 release with either Robert Walker or Frank Sinatra in the title role. An April 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Buster Keaton was set to play himself in the picture, but he did not appear in the final film. According to a February 1947 New York Times article, Merton of the Movies was one of three M-G-M films, along with Tenth Avenue Angel and Desire Me, whose release was delayed so that significant portions of the story could be rewritten and reshot. In October 1946, revisions were ordered by M-G-M executives as part of a policy designed to protect actors appearing in their films by bringing all their pictures up to studio standards.
Retakes and additional filming began in mid-February 1947. Some actors were either replaced or had their parts eliminated in the second round of filming. An M-G-M studio cast list dated October 1946 indicates that actor John Emery was replaced by Leon Ames, and that Harry Hayden replaced Charles Halton. Other actors listed in the original cast, but who did not appear in the final film include Connie Gilchrist, Louis Mason William Tannen, Esther Howard, William Bishop and Anne O'Neal. Actors whose appearances in the released version of the film cannot be verified include: Ben Lessey, May McAvoy, Sam Ash, William Frambes, Bobby Johnson, Britt Wood, Helyn Eby-Rock, Louise Franklin, Buddy Beattie, Helen Boice, Joan Blair, Budd Fine, George Carlton, Eddie Waller, Carl Saxe, Phil Dunham, Frank O'Connor, Bert Davidson, Rex Ravelle, Mike Pat Donovan, Kenner Kemp, Cedric Stevens, Tom Pilkington and Roger Cole.
The film's "Keystone Kops" sequence featured several actors who had originally played "Kops" in the 1910s, including, Vernon Dent, Clarence Hennecke, Heinie Conklin and Chester Conklin. The 1922 stage production of Merton of the Movies starred Glenn Hunter and Edward M. Favor. Hunter reprised his role for a 1924 Famous Players-Lasky motion picture version of Merton of the Movies, which was produced and directed by James Cruze (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.3570). Paramount remade the film in 1932 as Make Me a Star, directed by William Beaudine and starring Joan Blondell and Stuart Erwin (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2665). Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland starred in the Lux Radio Theatre version of the story, which aired on November 17, 1941.