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The Water Nymph (1912)

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Mabel and her sweetheart go to the beach and play a trick on the boyfriend's father.


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Title: The Water Nymph (1912)

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Cast overview:
Diving Venus
Ford Sterling ...
George's Father
Gus Pixley ...
Effeminate Man


A young man is in love. His parents invite him to spend the day with them at the beach frolicking in the water. The girlfriend not yet having met his parents, the young man and his new love decide have a little fun at his father's expense by having the girlfriend vamp him at the beach, with him not knowing who she is. His father is generally a loving husband when he's under the lock and key of his wife, but a beautiful young woman in a bathing suit flirting with him at the beach may be too much for him to resist, especially as his wife has left him to his own devices. The son secretly watches on with glee as his father tries to woo his girlfriend. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Comedy | Short





Release Date:

23 September 1912 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Beach Flirt  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Released with Cohen Collects a Debt (1912) as the second half of a single reel offering on 23 September 1912, this was the initial Mack Sennett Keystone comedy release. See more »


Remake of The Diving Girl (1911) See more »

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User Reviews

This movie gave Grandpa the hotchahs!
14 December 2004 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

'The Water Nymph' was Mack Sennett's very first Keystone film, although he had been involved with the film industry earlier at Biograph, working under DW Griffith ... whom Sennett enthusiastically praised decades later: 'He was my day school, my night school, my university.' In the 1990s, film historian Leslie Halliwell reprinted this quote but made the bizarre decision to update the phrase 'night school' to 'adult education centre'.

Although the Keystone films are best known for slapstick and pratfalls, 'The Water Nymph' is an excellent reminder that Sennett offered his audiences other pleasures too ... specifically, female pulchritude. Here we see the inspiration for all the Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties yet to come.

SPOILERS COMING. More as an economic measure than anything else, Mack Sennett casts himself here as the male lead. Young swain Mack (no relation to Mack Swain) calls on fair young damsel Mabel Normand, wooing her in her parents' garden.

Mack's henpecked father is played by Ford Sterling, in his excitable Dutch-comic characterisation. When they show up separately at the same beach, Mack mischievously encourages Mabel to vamp his father, hoping to get Papa to like her. (Right, but he'll like her for the wrong reason.)

Young Mabel Normand is a visual delight in her old-fashioned swimming costume, displaying some lithe agility. There are also some quaint shots of the old-fashioned changing booths that were commonplace on public beaches in 1912, the year of the Titanic. We also see some authentic quayside footage, with an unnamed pier which an American friend of mine has identified for me as Santa Monica.

Besides Mabel, there are several other eyefuls of pretty girls in bathing cozzies, all of them quite pleasant to see. Papa Ford Sterling tries to impress them all at the pier's cafe, waving a wad of banknotes. This is Mack's cue to arrive with Mama, introducing Mabel as his sweetheart to both of his parents ... including Papa, who's been trying to pick her up! Smiles all round.

'The Water Nymph' was in its own time far less funny than later Keystones would be, and whatever humour it possessed has now passed its sell-by date. Even by the standards of 1912, 'The Water Nymph' is dead crude. If I summarised this movie in one word, it would be 'quaint'. But 'The Water Nymph' has a great deal of historic interest, not merely as the first Keystone but also for its honest depiction of working-class Californians at play in 1912 (not the main characters; the background ones). Much of this film's considerable charm can be credited to Mabel Normand, quite athletic here and apparently doing her own dives and stunts. Grandpa got the hotchahs for this movie, and you'll like it too. I'll rate 'The Water Nymph' 7 out of 10.

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