Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hide and Seek (USA, 1913)

Some people have already said that Mack Sennett, the head of Keystone studios, was an uneducated man. I will not argue with this statement, although I am a big fan of his work. However, there is something that even his detractors have to admit: He knew what the audiences liked and it is no wonder why his films set some standards of slapstick comedy.

This film has a very simple plot and is less physical than typical films of the studio, which usually involved relatively dangerous stunts. On the other hand, it is a typical Keystone film in some regards. The female star of the company, Mabel Normand, is one of the protagonists, together with some cute little girls wearing big ribbons. One of the girls is playing hide and seek with Mabel. While Mabel closes her eyes, so the little girl could hide, the little girl ends up entering the vault near them. Mabel finds the girl at once, but she is called out of the room as soon as she spots the girl in the vault and this makes Mabel lose track of the girl. Meanwhile, the clerk locks the vault. Mabel comes back to the room, realizes the vault is locked and thinks the little girl was locked inside. As a matter of fact, the girl had gone to the street to play while Mabel was away.  Mabel raises the alarm and everyone in the house get very nervous. 

While everyone is trying to rescue the girl who they thought was locked in the vault, the little girl was having a great time playing on the street with her peers.  And the group even finds a four-legged friend, a dog.
The family looks for help and called guys who looked like firemen or similar officers. Then the comedy becomes a typical Keystone film: Chaos ensues, the firemen start fighting and we can see a man who clearly looks like a policeman, with a fake moustache and everything which would really qualify him as a Keystone Cop.
Then, the policeman opens the vault and, for any unexplained reason, much smoke shows up, the door of the vault falls right over the poor incompetent mustached policeman. While this chaos happened, the girl was found playing on the street and brought back home.

The film ends with everyone celebrating the girl returning home and with the policeman being released of the door over him.
Some highlights of this film: Here Mabel is more fragile than she would be in other films by the studio, as she does not perform the dangerous stunts she would do in other films. However, the faces she pulls and how she express her anxiety with the whereabouts of the girl are very funny.

Further reading and materials:

1. A website devoted to actress Mabel Normand:

2. Mabel Normand’s films available in the website

3. Facebook Group Wished on Mabel Normand


  1. I'm your new favorite follower, Miwi1010! :) I tweet for @BPL and although I don't know a lot about silent films, I do like your taste, so I followed you. Have a great week. I so jealous that you live in Brazil (and Rio no less)! All best to you. --Hunter (P.S. Thanks for following us on Twitter.)

  2. Hace tiempo que no te visito, por cuestión de tiempo y trabajo, espero que todo vuelva pronto a la normalidad, y poder venir a tu espacio más asíduamente, para disfrutar del contenido de este blog, que tan magistralmente tu diriges.
    Un abrazo.