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The Fatal Mallet (1914)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  1 June 1914 (USA)
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 427 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 5 critic

Three man will fight for the love of a charming girl. Charlie will play dirty, throwing bricks to his contender, and using a huge hammer to hurt one of them. But a precocious kid will be the fourth suitor in discord.

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Cast

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Mabel's Rival Suitor
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Mabel
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Mabel's True Love
Mack Swain ...
Another Rival
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Storyline

Charlie throws a brick at a man and woman and gets it thrown back at him. The rivals fight. The lady leaves with a third suitor. Charlie finds a wooden mallet with which he subdues both rivals, locking them in a barn. He kicks the lady who instantly falls for him. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

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Genres:

Short | Comedy

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Release Date:

1 June 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hit Him Again  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Mabel stars
20 February 2007 | by (England) – See all my reviews

Rather to my surprise, I actually quite liked this one. Considering that I don't care for slapstick, that the entire plot of this film consists of people hitting each other, and that I'm not Charlie Chaplin's greatest fan, this was extremely unexpected; but in fact, there are good things to be said for a film that consists of nothing whatever but a single, simple gag ingeniously elaborated. Mack Sennett gets better and -- dare one even suggest it in such a context? -- more subtle results here by simply staging repeated variations on a theme than he would have done by throwing in the semblance of a plot (or what passes for one in Keystone territory), let alone by introducing more characters or invoking the Keystone Kops...

Despite or even because the whole film is occupied by hitting people over the head, there is scope for some finer detail, such as the shifting alliances of convenience between the various opponents as old grudges are overlaid by more immediate opportunity, and moments of realisation: my favourite was the sequence where Mack Swain comes to and realises that he has been locked in with a Mack Sennett who is going to be *very* angry when he wakes up... and the way that his knees (all that is visible) shake beneath the sackcloth while he tries to hide. But I felt that the player who really shines in this film is Mabel Normand, who has the advantage over the men of being on the receiving end of less constant violence, and thus can really milk her outraged reactions when her suitors' attacks accidentally spill over. The little sequence at the beginning where she sweet-talks Charlie into a close approach after he kicks her in error -- only to knock him unexpectedly flying with the full strength of her diminutive frame -- is laugh-out-loud funny, which is more than can be said for much of Keystone's standard fare.


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