Join Soundtrack Stream to Research the article “The Marvellous Mabel Normand review – silent shorts still stand tall | Silent film”
The BFI is releasing this collection of four short films from the neglected pioneer of silent comedy, Mabel Normand – a performer, producer and director who worked with Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett, Roscoe Arbuckle, Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel. It was in a film she directed, Mabel’s Strange Predicament (1914), that Chaplin first wore the “tramp” outfit, although that is not included here.
The shorts are Mabel’s Blunder (1914), in which Mabel misreads her fiance’s apparent dalliance with another woman; Mabel’s Dramatic Career (1913), with Sennett, in which she heads off to Hollywood after her cruel fiance rejects her, and he suffers the poetic justice of seeing her triumphantly up on the silver screen in a Keystone production – surely one of the earliest meta-cinema moments; His Trysting Places (1914), directed by and starring Chaplin with Mabel as his wife; and Should Men Walk Home? (1927), in which she plays a cheeky chancer who teams up with a professional burglar.
It’s a fascinating archival collection. Normand allows the scene to be stolen from her by the hyperactive Chaplin in His Trysting Places but always shines in her artless, madcap way. That charm is especially on display in the bizarre crime caper Should Men Walk Home?, in which Mabel’s co-star is induced to stop for her as a hitchhiker and get involved in her shenanigans. She and her conspirator steal a precious brooch from a safe during a swanky party, lose track of it in the melee and the object is finally taken by a tiny toddler in a nappy who had been asleep upstairs. The films are great historical documents of early cinema.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The Marvellous Mabel Normand review – silent shorts still stand tall | Silent film