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Film / The Extra Girl

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Hollywood can be very exciting
Ah, the old story of the simple Midwest girl who heads off to Hollywood in the hopes of becoming a star. No doubt it was an old story even in 1923, when it was put to film in the silent comedy The Extra Girl.

This time, the girl is Sue Graham, played by Mabel Normand in her last feature film. Fleeing a loveless Arranged Marriage, she escapes to comic misadventures in Tinseltown. She is soon joined by Dave Giddings, her childhood sweetheart. Later on, her parents join her out west, and get their life savings swindled by a crook. Also, a lion gets loose in the studio at one point.

This film has the examples of:

  • Arranged Marriage: Sue's father tries to force her to marry Aaron Applejohn.
  • As Himself: Silent stars William Desmond and Billy Bevan appear as themselves.
  • Career Versus Man: After her disastrous screen test, Dave encourages Sue to give up her acting dreams and marry him. She does choose him over a career in the end, but they keep a film of that hilarious audition as a souvenir of her Hollywood days.
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  • Cat Scare: And it's not even a horror film. While Sue is preparing a letter she's secretly sending to Hollywood, her bedroom door opens and she freezes, but it's just the cat. The incident nevertheless results in her swallowing her only stamp.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: During her screen test, Sue's period dress flies up and reveals her bloomers. Made worse by the fact that a stagehand's glove was attached to them due to her having sat on it earlier.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Sue is supposed to marry Aaron Applejohn, played by future Three Stooges foil Vernon Dent. She is not even slightly interested in him.
  • Elopement: Sue and Dave plan to do this, but Sue's parents catch them and guilt her into staying. When she does run away, it's for Hollywood rather than for marriage.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: Due to a mix-up with a dog wearing a lion costume, Sue accidentally sets a real lion loose in the studio.
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  • First Guy Wins: Sue wants to marry her childhood friend Dave Giddings, and she does in the end.
  • Flyover Country: Sue is from "between the Rocky Mountains and Pittsburgh," specifically a small town in Illinois. The film was actually made before commercial transcontinental flights, but the attitude towards the region is clearly the same as today.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Sue's father invests all his money in an oil company that he's repeatedly assured can't possibly fail. Guess what happens.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: In-universe. When Sue auditions for a role in a Period Piece, she and the other actors are dressed up in fancy nineteenth-century costumes.
  • Nonindicative Name: In Hollywood, Sue works in the wardrobe department, and has one disastrous screen test for a leading role. At no point in the film is she employed as an extra.
  • Onion Tears: Sue cries when Aaron talks about their upcoming marriage. She claims her tears are due to the onion she's peeling.
  • Puppy Love: Pa Graham believes Sue and Dave's relationship is just this trope. Aaron thinks it's more serious, and he's not wrong.
  • Runaway Bride: Sue becomes one when she runs away from her wedding to Aaron.
  • Small Town Boredom: Sue wants to get away from this.
  • Start My Own: After Sue is fired for the lion incident, she announces that she'll just start her own studio because her father is about to be very rich. Uh-huh.
  • Sticky Situation: Sue steps on gum right before she's supposed to act a scene.
  • We Were Rehearsing a Play: Sue and Dave really were practicing acting when Pa Graham and Aaron caught them kissing and canoodling with each other. Still, they were perhaps a bit too into it for it to be entirely innocent. In any case, Pa Graham doesn't buy their explanation.