Monday, November 22, 2010

Mabel's Strange Predicament

(Finding Herself 'Directing' Chaplin)

Mabel's Strange Predicament by Mabel Normand, 1914:

So apparently one scene of this film which features the Little Tramp was shot before Kid Auto Races at Venice, Cal., though the whole wasn't finished till three days after Kid Auto Races — and it was released two days after Kid Auto Races — which means Kid Auto Races = the first completed Little Tramp film / The Tramp announces himself as a drunkard in the earlier film / Now he's pissed, and Mabel's Strange Predicament by the Mabel (Normand) of the title provides an early dry run for the opening of Chaplin's Limelight which contains the greatest drunk pantomime in all of cinema / This tiny picture conveys the fact that the shame of a woman being seen in ankle-to-collar pajamas was greater than that of being taken for a public drunk in 1914 America / The cuts are arbitrary at best at this point under Sennett, and with Mabel at the provisional helm / It's the Tramp before there's a full Charlie — and yet — because his gestures are so perfectly calibrated, especially with the physical stuff toward the end, one can see CHARLIE's emergence across 11 minutes 52 seconds like a duck cracking out of its egg in this one-reeler with a title like that of a hair-tonic / Quite a predicament though / If it's not weighing an abortion I'm still trying to figure out what

Mabel's Strange Predicament by Mabel Normand, 1914:


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