Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand




Rel Dec 13, 1919

5 reels, (4969 feet)

dir. Victor L. Schertzinger,

auth. Shannon Fife,

cam. George Webber,

film editor. Jack Dennis,

Art. Dir. Hugo Ballin

cast: Mabel Normand (Jinx), Cullen Landis (“Slicker” Evans - “The Wild Man”), Florence Carpenter (Rory Bory Alice), Gertrude Claire (Aunt Tina), Ogden Crane (“Bull” Hogarth), Clarence Arper (Sheriff Jepson), Francis Carpenter

Location: Goldwyn Studio, Culver City, CA

copyright: Sept. 19, 1919


Synopsis from AFI

After her father's death, a girl who is left with a circus where she performs chores such as manicuring an elephant's nails, is named Jinx by Bull Hogarth, the owner, who blames her for the circus' hard luck. When the star attraction, Rory Bory Alice, upset that she has not been paid for weeks, leaves, Jinx attempts Alice's serpentine dance to impress two prospective buyers. When she gets entangled in gauze, however, Hogarth's anger causes Jazbo, the wild man, who is actually Slicker Evans, and in love with Jinx, to break out and disrupt the crowd. Jinx escapes to a farm house where Aunt Tina Carbery raises seven orphans. Jinx helps out and entertains them with her own back yard circus until Hogarth drunkenly demands that she tell him where Alice went. Although Aunt Tina suspects for a while that Jinx is trying to seduce her sweetheart Sheriff Jepson, at the end, the sheriff marries Tina, and Slicker, who saves Jinx from Hogarth's beating, is accepted by her.




Variety, December 19, 1919


          Manicuring an elephant's toe-nails, we first see Mabel Normand as “Jinx,” and then doing all odd jobs around the circus lot to square herself with the mob, only to be looked down upon by all including the “boss” as “patsy” of the troupe. And she is some “patsy,” too. For no matter how Miss Normand tries to do things they are all wrong with everyone but the “Wild-Man.” Even “Rory Bory Alice,” whom she tries to help out of a predicament turns on her.

          But the “Jinx” is persistent in her determination to make good and when “Rory Bory” blows the outfit a few minutes before she is to do her serpentine dance, the “Jinx,” without consulting anyone, dons her resplendent regalia and attempts to interpret her fantasy. She becomes twisted up in the yards and yards of silk, balls up the dance, riles the boss, who attempts to get at her to throttle her, causes the wild-man to break loose from his cage and thrash the boss as well as break up the show, and drive all customers off the lot. Seeing what havoc she has wrought, she flees and takes refuge in a stall of a stable belonging to an orphanage run by “Aunt Tina.” She is discovered by one of the kiddies who reports to the rest of the children a fairy has been discovered. She is taken in as one of the household, but soon enough driven out because of the circus. The “Boss,” his sweet­heart “Alice,” meets the “Jinx” and attempts to beat out of her the information where his girl has gone. He tries to set the orphanage afire, when “Slicker” Evans, the “Wild-man,” comes along and trounces him and wins the heart of  “Jinx,” with whom he has been in love.

          Miss Normand shows her superior ability as a comedienne and uses her utmost talents in making situations humorous and getting laughs aplenty through them. She shows her versatility when giving a circus for the kiddies, doing “Wire-walker,” “Ballet,” “Dancer,” “Acrobat” and “Animal Trainer.”

          The picture is an unusually pleasing one, does not lag, is consistent and full of punch. It is not an expensive production.

          For this time of the year, it is an ideal release, interest­ing young and old and should outrival her previous picture “Freckles.”

          One thing very noticeable was the closeups. Miss Normand should not have tried to stand the test in kid character.

          Cullen Landis gave a remarkable performance as the “Wild-man” and also displays his athletic prowess as a pugilist. Flor­ence Carpenter in her “fly” part, left little for the imagina­tion. Ogden Crane seemed to over-play the circus owner, especial­ly in his fits of infuriation. Gertrude Claire and Clarence Arper gave the human interest touch as the orphanage keeper and the sheriff.





Dramatic Mirror, October 16, 1919

Excellent Comedy Business in Circus Atmosphere Sure-Fire Laughing Success


Mabel Normand in “JINX


          Director....................Victor Schertzinger

          Author......................Shannon Fife

          Scenario by...............Gerald C. Duffy

          As A Whole.............Exceptionally human and smooth running comedy that hits on high and registers laughs with very pleasing regularity.

          Story.........................Just enough to tie together funny bits of business.

          Direction..................Gave great circus atmosphere with ideal conditions for star to register in, and kept comedy tempo just right to keep it from lagging at any time.

          Photography............Generally excellent; many splendid close-ups of star.

          Lightings..................Some beautiful exterior shots, with lighting on star excellent.

          Camera Work...........Very good throughout.

          Star............................Registered one of the greatest characterizations of her career.

          Support.....................Good types, with kids and animals fitting in naturally and registering much good comedy.

          Exteriors...........................Very good.

          Interiors...........................Quite satisfactory.

          Detail................................Very good.

          Character Of Story...........Wholesome and happy; will delight kids and grown-ups.

          Length Of Production.......4,969 feet









New York Morning Telegraph, December 28, 1919

Mabel Normand Gives


Children Christmas Treat



          Mabel Normand did her “bit” on Christmas day to make the holidays memorable for 5,000 orphan asylum children in New York by appearing in costume at the entertainment given at the Capitol Theatre under the auspices of Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Hearst. Manager E. J. Bowes of the Capitol Theatre turned the house over to the children for Christmas morning. In order that the performance conform to the holiday spirit, Manager Bowes of the Capitol Theatre arranged to have several vocalists and instrumentalists play Christmas carols and other songs with which the children were familiar. Besides several short pictures of interest to young people were shown.

           The feature event of the program was Mabel Normand's appearance both on the screen and on the huge stage of the theatre as Jinx. In the picture, which was shown through the courtesy of Goldwyn, the kiddies howled with delight at the antics of Miss Normand as a circus waif who has all sorts of adventures in circus and in an orphan asylum, and who winds up her career as jinx when she marries the wild man of the circus.

          When Miss Normand herself appeared in her screen costume of the Jinx and made a little speech to the children, the huge Capitol Theatre resounded to the most enthusiastic applause that has been heard in the theatre since its opening.

          To please the children, Miss Normand came tumbling out upon the stage, doing the very stunts that revealed her as an acrobat well as an actress in her photoplay.



New York Morning Telegraph, December 28, 1919

           Louella Parsons

          There are stars and stars, but only one Mabel Normand in the world. What other player can any one think of who would give up her entire Christmas morning to making the lame children of the city happy, and yet that is exactly what Miss Normand did. Those who know of the thousands of thoughtful things she does for other people are not surprised to hear of her getting up bright and early to be at the Capitol Theatre in time.

          Her family were expecting her in Staten Island and she had to leave immediately after the performance to get there in time for Christmas dinner. It was like Mabel to forget all about herself. She is always thinking of other people.


New York Morning Telegraph, December 28, 1919

Louella Parsons

          Mabel Normand gave the clerks in the 10-cent store the thrill of their lives last Wednesday afternoon. Following the luncheon given for her at the Ritz, she decided upon a shopping tour at Woolworth's palace of bargains. And every clerk in the place stopped work to gave at Mabel, saying in awed voices, as if they were speaking of an angelic vision right out of heaven:

          “It is Mabel Normand!”

          Several customers failed to share this thrill and were obviously annoyed at the clerks' failure to attend them. Even the floorwalker   --  Oh, yes, indeed, the 10-cent store has a floorwalker; I never knew it either until I accompanied Mabel on her shopping expedition  --  stopped pacing up and down to assist the little lady in finding what she wanted.

          But he had a terrible blow. In a collection of motion picture stars' photographs which we stopped to examine there wasn't a single one of Miss Normand. The floorwalker was so embarrassed at this oversight that someone came to the rescue by suggesting he had probably sold all of Miss Normand's photographs. It will be a safe bet to go and ask for them now, for between Ralph Block and that floorwalker one thing is certain in the future  --  here will be pictures galore of our little Mabel.


New York Morning Telegraph, January 6, 1920

          Returns to Culver City

          Louella Parsons

          It had to be. Mabel Normand had to leave New York and all her million and nine fans here to return to California and start work on “Maggie,” her next Goldwyn picture. She put off the evil day just as long as she could, and finally when she did decide to leave town she left in such a typical Mabel hurry that not half of her friends knew she had departed.

          Our first knowledge that she had left town came in a tele­gram of farewell from Streator, Illinois. Not knowing she had checked out from her hotel, and expecting to see her at dinner Sunday, it was somewhat of a shock to learn she was on her way to the Coast.

          But being a creature of impulse, everyone expects Miss Normand to act on them: and everyone loves her for being as she is.





Dramatic Mirror, February 7, 1920


There is only one Mabel Normand. Consequently, there is nothing to compare her with. If you like, her you like her, and if you don't, you don't. In the latter taste, you are indeed to be pitied if you find yourself compelled to sit through a Mabel Normand picture. Luckily there are few members of the screen loving public who don't like Mabel, and their number is becoming less all the time. Anyone who can sit through "Jinx" and come away without profound respect for Miss Normand's comedy ability, is indeed exceptional.

          The Jinx is the nickname of an orphan who is some way has become attached to a circus. She brings disaster to everybody she comes in contact with, and is treated accordingly. Her greatest misdemeanor, however, occurs when she takes the place of the serpentine dancer and disgraces the show before all who might possibly get it out of its financial difficulties. The dire fate that is sure to overtake her when she and the manager get together causes her to run away. An orphan asylum offers the most convenient refuge, and here she stages an amateur circus which is a riot of amusement. Here also she is found by the wild man of the show, who does not share the company's prejudice against her, and we are left to suppose that at some date after the end of the picture the two become a happy bride and groom.

          Obviously such a story as this is not sufficient to entertain even the most simple minded audience without mammoth assistance from the cast. In this case the cast is ninety-nine per cent Mabel Normand.

















Victor L. Schertzinger & Mabel Normand


"playing together"



Coshocton Tribune, May 18, 1920, page 8



Acting in the “movies” is like a cold.  You get used to both after a while.


Which would you rather do, play a village cutup or a society girl?” Miss Normand was asked. “Race Tom Moore in my new Stutz,” she replied.


I think Will Rogers has some fish blood in him.  He dances like a crocodile, but swims like a shark.


You can’t tell anything about a person’s dancing by looking at him, “Take my director, Victor Schertzinger for instance.  When he walks across a set, you’d think someone was playing a waltz, and he couldn’t control his feet.


They say Jazz isn’t music.  Did you hear of anyone dancing to a Beethoven sonata?”