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Mabel's Dramatic Career (1913)

5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 159 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 2 critic

Long after jilting his girlfriend, Mabel the kitchen maid, Mack is startled to see her onscreen at the local cinema.

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Title: Mabel's Dramatic Career (1913)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Mabel, the Kitchen Maid
...
Mack - Mabel's Sweetheart
Alice Davenport ...
Mack's Mother
Virginia Kirtley ...
City Girl - Mabel's Rival
Charles Avery ...
Farmer / Movie Crewman
...
Actor / Onscreen Villain
...
Man in Audience
Billy Jacobs ...
Mabel's Son (as Paul Jacobs)
Charles Inslee ...
Film Director
Dave Anderson ...
Driver / Man in Audience
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Storyline

A young man falls in love with his mother's kitchen maid, Mabel. But his mother objects strongly, and arranges for him to meet another young woman whom she considers more suitable. Mabel confronts the young woman, and is dismissed from her position. Later, when the young man learns about the new career that Mabel has found, he begins to act in an agitated and unpredictable manner. Written by Snow Leopard

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Genres:

Comedy | Short

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Details

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Release Date:

8 September 1913 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Her Dramatic Debut  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Connections

References At Twelve O'Clock (1913) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Early Keystone comedy, and subtle it ain't
27 December 2001 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Mabel's Dramatic Career is pure Keystone: the players emote like kids in a school play, the humor is broad (Mabel falls down a lot), and the characters' emotions are as big and as simple as their gestures. Look elsewhere for Chekhovian nuance; in the Keystone universe, people laugh, cry, sneer, scream, and throw stuff at each other at a moment's notice. Relationships end suddenly, and new ones form moments later. Motivation is basic, and everything is operatic.

The plot of this film is rudimentary. Mack Sennett plays a vulgar country rube who is in love with pretty Mabel Normand, the maid, although his mother opposes the match. But when a sophisticated city woman shows up, Mack quickly becomes interested in her, and breaks off his engagement with Mabel. His mother seizes the opportunity to send her away. Plucky Mabel gets a job as a movie actress while, unbeknownst to her, the city woman has rejected Mack. Time passes. Mack comes to the big city, goes to the movies, and sees Mabel on screen threatened by a villain. (A funny scene!) But he's appalled to learn that she is actually married to the Bad Guy actor -- who appears to be a nice enough guy, off-screen. Mack winds up alone, a chump who ruined his chance for happiness.

In outline, it's not a funny plot; in fact, the story told here is a sad one. And once you learn a few details about the actors and actresses who starred in the Keystone comedies, so many of whom met with tragedy in later life, the undercurrents we sense as we watch them perform can be genuinely moving, even in an offhand short comedy like this one. It seems that the basic plot of Mabel's Dramatic Career played out in real life: according to his autobiography, Mack Sennett was in love with Mabel Normand, and engaged to her, but when she caught him with another actress she broke off the engagement. Although it was intended as pure slapstick, Mabel's Dramatic Career is strangely touching, over and above what actually occurs during its brief running time.

Real-life sadness aside, there's an amusing moment during the sequence in the movie theater when Mack is watching Mabel on screen. She's being threatened by the hilariously hammy Ford Sterling, who holds a bomb with a lighted fuse; Mack, horrified, attempts to blow it out. We're reminded of those stories of early cinema audiences frightened by the sight of oncoming trains, a reminder of the newness of cinema in 1913 that gives the film an interesting historical twist.


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