Friday, February 5, 2016
Mabel's Dramatic Career (USA,1913)
Mack Sennett’s character is in love with his mother’s kitchen maid, played by Mabel Normand. However, his mother is not happy about the involvement of her son with the maid. Meanwhile, it arrives another woman from the city and Mack’s mother is fond of her since the beginning. Both the mother and Mack start talking to the woman while Mabel was in the kitchen. Then, Mabel shows up in the living room, rather jealous of seeing her sweetheart getting close to the city woman. After a fight, Mabel ends up being dismissed and is left alone “into the cruel world”, as one of intertitles says.
Mack starts treating Mabel in a mean way, even taking from her the ring he had given her in the beginning of film.
And, he soon offers “his hand and fortune” to the city woman. She refused and both the city woman and Mack start fighting in the traditional slapstick fashion. Right after the incident, Mack regrets the rude way he treated Mabel.
Mabel arrives at the city, jobless, and ends up finding a job at a cinema studio. Years later, Mack sees Mabel’s picture in a placard as starring in a comedy of Keystone studios (the same studio that made this film in real life) and gets shocked. Mack enters the cinema, sees Mabel in the film and starts yelling, which annoys the rest of the audience.
At the end, Mack shoots at the screen villain who was attacking Mabel, causing a huge mess inside the cinema. But the final shock for Mack was finding out that the film's villain was actually Mabel's husband in real life.
This film is a valuable historical witness of how a cinema was like in the 1910s and of universal appeal of early Keystone comedies. Those films focused on showing lives of working class people aimed at working class audiences, so gags were quite easy to understand and performed by a fixed group of competent stars. In addition to his Keystone studios, another historic contribution of Mack Sennett was having focused on his responsibilities as a study mogul and director, as his acting was too over the top and often more ridiculous than funny. We can also see a young Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle as one of audiences members. Arbuckle was still at the beginning of his film career, but would soon become a star on his own right.