Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wished on Mabel - 1915

Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Mabel Normand
Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Edgar Kennedy
Release Date: 19 March 1915 (USA)
Filming Locations: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, USA
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy
As Mabel is in the park with her over-protective mother, she sees her boyfriend and asks him to join them. When the couple slips away to be by themselves, a thief steals Mabel's mother's watch. While the mother is trying to get help from a policeman, the thief encounters Mabel and her boyfriend. Soon a complicated situation develops.
WISHED ON MABEL is a pleasant little ensemble piece set entirely in a park. The film features two of Keystone's most popular stars, Mabel Normand and Roscoe Arbuckle, though neither one dominates the proceedings. They play a pair of happy young lovers, enjoying a day outside with Mabel's mother. Early on they're harassed by a persistent bumblebee (which results in a memorably funny close-up of Mabel looking cross-eyed as the bee lights on her nose), but otherwise everything is peachy, at least at first. Complications set in when a watch is stolen from Mabel's mother; confusion escalates and the watch changes hands several times before the matter is resolved.
The ensemble work in this film is a treat for silent comedy buffs: the thief who swipes the watch is played by Joe Bordeaux, a supporting player who appeared in many of Arbuckle's comedies but seldom so prominently featured as he is here. Bordeaux is pursued by perennial cop Edgar Kennedy, best remembered as a latter-day foil for Laurel & Hardy, still quite young and athletic in 1915 and not so bald as he would become. It's Kennedy the Cop who sets this little saga in motion, indirectly anyhow, by rousting the sleeping Bordeaux from a park bench (so that he can stretch out himself, naturally), prompting the watch-grabbing crime spree. Along the way we get a quick look at Glen Cavender, best remembered as the chief Union spy in Buster Keaton's THE GENERAL.
Viewers unfamiliar with Keystone comedies may be surprised at how quickly the characters resort to violence: Kennedy the Cop swings his billy club with abandon, not only at Bordeaux but at an innocent bystander, while Mabel rebuffs Bordeaux's mild advances with several swift punches. Still, this comedy is less violent than most others the stars made at the time, and the tone is generally light-hearted. Both Roscoe and Mabel did more memorable work elsewhere, but it's a pleasure to see them looking so sprightly and happy as they do here. WISHED ON MABEL is a pleasant little comedy, not hilarious but less frantic than some of the other Keystones, and certainly worthwhile for silent comedy fans.   
Eleventh of twelve movies that starred The Keystone Cops.

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