Monday, February 1, 2016

The Ragtime Band (USA,1913)

This film fits perfectly into the tradition of Keystone studios of portraying people of working classes. There is a very young Mabel Normand, fake mustaches and Ford Sterling in a comedic acting too over the top for nowadays' standards, even bordering the grotesque. But we must not forget that such acting was still made back to 1910s, a heritage of ways of entertainment older than the cinema, like vaudeville, circus, stage, etc.
There is a band playing in front of a house. Then, the same band is shown in a rehearsal. Mabel goes to the place where the band is rehearsing to watch it, as she was apparently very excited about the band. There is a fight and Ford Sterling kicks out one of members of the band. Mabel goes outside, sees that guy who was kicked out and listens to his music with lots of interest. A short time later Ford Sterling goes outside, sees what's going on and gets really outraged. Sterling leaves the scene with Mabel and they return to her house to see her mother. 
The band leaves for the performance. Mabel is in the audience. Before the band's performance begins, there is a weird performance by women who had a kinda doubtful reputation, holding placards with her names and addresses. The audience laughed, but not everyone was happy with those women on stage. Even before the band comes to the stage, we can see the audience wasn't exactly well-educated. Then the worst happens: The audience throws lots of vegetables on the band members. Sterling reacts and throws a vegetable back towards the audience, but ends up hitting Mabel instead. 
Finally, there is a general mess with a plentybof food being thrown and Sterling tried to solve the problem by getting a hose and wetting the entire audience. He fell on his butt (a common gag of slapstick comedy of that era) and this is the end of another typical early film by Keystone studios.

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