Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand





 This is another of the much-loved films of the pairing of Mabel Normand and Roscoe Arbuckle.  Like many of the Keystone comedies, this one is very easy to find as Malnor Films has a DVD-r disk available and a great print is on the Forgotten Films of Arbuckle, from Laughsmith, and yes, it was shown on TCM, so not so forgotten.   


The year of 1915 was such a rich year for Keystone, so much was happening; Charlie Chaplin had left after a year in December of 1914 but not before making the first full-length comedy feature with Mabel and Marie Dressler, Tillie’s Punctured Romance, which was just being shown in many cities .  The public wanted more Keystone-style comedies and in January 1915, ‘Fatty and Mabel’s Simple Life’ was released and the whole country went Fatty and Mabel crazy. What a happy and busy time, it is right there on the screen.










In one scene, Mabel was backed against a tree by a runaway Ford.  Joe Bordeaux was ducking down on the floor of the car, working the car’s gas and brakes. Joe used a line on the ground to guide the auto up to Mabel on this line, at which time it pressed close to her; then Joe would back up a few feet and run at her again. It gave the impression that the Ford was acting like a goat.  It wasn’t trick photography, it was a trick car but viewers didn’t know how it was done until later.  The car was under control all the time but if Joe hadn’t been careful Mabel could have been hurt.  In the Photoplay of April 1916 in an article called “Why Aren’t We Killed” by Randolph Bartlett, you can read more about the way some of the screens in the Fatty and Mabel comedies were done.  




2 reels, © Jan. 16, 1915

dir. Roscoe Arbuckle

cast:  Mabel Normand, Roscoe Arbuckle, Joseph Swickard, Al St. John,  Hank Mann

finished:  1/4/1915

Location:  Keystone, farm in Los Angeles, California

Fatty is a farm hand and Mabel is the farmer’s daughter. They try to elope but Mabel’s father wants her to marry the son of the landowner and the car runs away with the spooning couple.