Monday, March 19, 2018

A Muddy Romance (USA, 1913)

In the first few years of Keystone studios (founded in 1912), many of their films were one-reelers with quite simple storylines. Other studios produced similar comedies, both in the USA and abroad. Short films were still the most common length of films, as feature-length films were still at the very beginning. Films like Cabiria (Italy, 1914) and The Birth of a Nation (USA, 1915) –some of the films that would help to consolidate feature length films as more popular – were yet to be produced. 
In a landscape that looked remarkably rural, Ford Sterling –with his typically exaggerated gestures and mannerisms - was by a window, flirting with Mabel Normand, who was in another window. However, there was another man interested in Mabel (“a persistent suitor”) and he came to her house to visit her. Sterling did not really seem pleased when he realized there was a competitor for Mabel`s affection. 
Sterling also came to visit Mabel, but the other suitor was still there and both men clashed. Sterling tried to attack the other guy, but ended up hitting Mabel with dirt instead. At this point, both men fought and Mabel tried to intervene and therefore she fell out of the window. The three of them threw things at each other. 
A clergyman arrived at Mabel`s house in the middle of all chaos. It seems to have come to marry Mabel and the other suitor. Then, Mabel, the other suitor and the clergyman leave in a boat while Sterling tries to shoot them as he saw the boat departing. 
The Keystone cops were called to try to settle the mess. The cops started shooting too and embarked on another boat and one of cops fell on the river and a short time later they got stuck in the mud. Sterling attempted to stop the boat from leaving by throwing mud on the river. 
More cops came to the scene with hoses and even a cannon. The hoses were useful to take their colleagues out of mud. Unfortunately Mabel fell in the mud right afterwards, but immediately the clergyman and her other suitor helped her out of the mud. And the three of them were eventually taken out of the muddy river. Meanwhile, Sterling was into trouble, as he was caught throwing dirt on the river. 
Such simple one-reelers were very popular in the era and working-class audiences could easily relate to situations being shown. Keystone films were a hit since the beginning and its actors became successful comedians. As time passed, the studio produced feature-length films (the first one being Tillie`s Punctured Romance in 1914, with Mabel Normand, Marie Dressler and newcomer Charlie Chaplin in the cast).  And Keystone studios became famous for discovering young comedians who would undeniably leave their mark in cinema history. For instance, young Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and Charlie Chaplin worked there in the 1910s. The studio was closed in 1933, already at the era of talkies.