Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Nickel-Hopper - 1926

Country: United States
Language: English
Directors: F. Richard Jones, Hal Yates
Writers: Frank Butler, Stan Laurel, Hal Roach, H.M. Walker (titles)
Stars: Mabel Normand, Michael Visaroff and Theodore von Eltz
Release Date: 5 December 1926 (USA)
Production Co: Hal Roach Studios
Runtime: 37 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Dance | Family Relationships | Father Daughter Relationship | Working Woman
Genres: Short | Comedy | Romance
Dance hall Romeos and an irresponsible father create comic complications in the life of a nickel-per-whirl taxi dancer. 
Mabel Normand was the darling of the teens, starring in scores of short films with the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, and Marie Dressler. Of course she co-starred with Dressler and Chaplin in the first feature-length comedy, Tillie's Punctured Romance, in 1914. It was a smash hit.
In 1918, Normand had the biggest hit of her career as the star of Mickey. In the early 20s she was peripherally involved in a few scandals and her career dried up. Despite the superb film, The Extra Girl in 1923, Normand was basically washed up. She tried Broadway; she went to Europe.
In the mid 20s she tried for a comeback and this 1926 short film, The Nickel-Hopper, was an attempt to return to her comedic roots. She was also backed by some major talent.
She plays a taxi dancer at a nickel a dance and supports her family. The dance scenes, thought brief, are very funny as she is hauled around the dance floor by a number of ridiculous men (including Boris Karloff as a masher). At home her father is a deadbeat, and poor Mabel doesn't even have a boy friend.
There are several terrific bits in this 37-minute film, and Normand is very good. She had a great deadpan delivery and made great use of her large eyes. The lady knew comedy.
Oliver Hardy (at the drums), James Finlayson, Margaret Seddon, Gus Leonard, Theodore von Eltz, and Michael Visaroff co-star. Stan Laurel co-scripted.

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