5.7/10
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6 user 5 critic

Gentlemen of Nerve (1914)

Mabel and her beau go to an auto race and are joined by Charlie and his friend. As Charlie's friend is attempting to enter the raceway through a hole, the friend gets stuck and a policeman ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Mr. Wow-Woe, Track Fanatic
...
Mabel
...
Mr. Walrus
...
Ambrose
Phyllis Allen ...
Flirty Woman
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Storyline

Mabel and her beau go to an auto race and are joined by Charlie and his friend. As Charlie's friend is attempting to enter the raceway through a hole, the friend gets stuck and a policeman shows up. Charlie sprays the policeman with soda until he friends makes it through the hole. In the grandstand, Mabel abandons her beau for Charlie. Both Charlie's friend and Mabel's are arrested and hauled away. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

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Short | Comedy

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Release Date:

29 October 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charlie at the Races  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Featured in Chaplin Today: The Circus (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Oh no, not the racetrack again!
31 December 2016 | by See all my reviews

A rapidly produced and poorly thought out short film. The movie barely allows Chaplin to get going with his newly developed ideas, but does allow Mabel to be……Mabel. The staging of a car race apparently sent the Keystone unit racing to the track, presumably without much of plot.

At the beginning we see Mr Walrus (Chester Cronklin) chaperoning Mabel at the track. It takes just two seconds, while Walrus fumbles for his money at the turnstile, for Ambrose (Mack Swain) to move in, and try to seduce the lovely Mabel. Predictably, Walrus kicks Mack in the rear, and then quickly hustles his charge into the raceway. Once inside, Mabel seems to be disgruntled at Walrus' intrusion, but becomes truly 'Mabelescent' when she sees the race cars getting ready to go. The pair take their seats, but next to a flirty woman of uncertain years (Phyllis Allen). While Mabel gets all enthusiastic over the racing cars, Mr Walrus gets excited about the flirt with the roving eye. Spotting this, Mabel goes through her catalog of moralistic facial expressions, until she sees Walrus hand Phyllis a note, prompting Mabel to give Walrus a few words – something to do with morality it seems. Mabel suggests they leave, and while passing the flirty woman, stamps on her foot. About this time, Ambrose is busy trying to sneak into the track through a fence. His accomplice is Charlie Chaplin, alias Mr Wow Wow (Wow Wow is another of Charlie's throwbacks to his vaudeville days). Some comical scenes ensue when Ambrose becomes stuck in the fence and is freed by Charlie with a few kicks and lubrication from a soda siphon. Now inside the track, Charlie runs into Walrus and Mabel outside a fenced enclosure. Charlie strikes a match on Walrus' backside, which causes some amusement to Mabel. After a violent clash between the two men, Mabel grabs Walrus and runs off, whereupon Charlie begins a hilarious battle royal with spectators behind the fence. While Charlie begins another altercation with Ambrose, Mabel and her guardian have taken a seat next to, would you believe, the lady flirt. Before Walrus can begin any amorous escapades Mabel has hit him in the head, causing him to head-butt Mistress Flirt. Mabel again runs off and trips over a seated Charlie, who is in the process of drinking from Dixie Chene's pop bottle, while she's distracted. Mabel sits down next to Charlie and squashes his derby, but the two remain amiable to each other, and run off like hyperactive kids to closely examine a propeller-driven car. Returning to their seats Mabel gets amorous towards Charlie, and more so when Walrus turns up. Walrus is understandably angry with Mabel, and restrains his now immoral charge. Charlie is quick to throw off his jacket and square up to Mr Walrus, but when he throws a punch, Mabel is bowled over. However, Walrus is soon seen off, and Charlie becomes Mabel's sheikh for the day. The pair sit down and Mabel begins to flirt, but Walrus and Ambrose have fallen foul of the law, and are marched off in front of Mabel and Charlie, much to their obvious delight. The two begin to cozy up to each other, and Charlie tries to kiss Mabel, who shakes her head and offers her hand, which Charlie lovingly kisses, sending Mabel into raptures of a kind later seen in 'Mickey'.

It is noticeable that when Mabel gets carried away laughing she displays her complete set of 'Marie Lloyd' teeth and gums. This is a rare occurrence, as she normally kept them well hidden, although when celebrated as a champion driver in 'Mabel At The Wheel' she again 'forgets' and reveals acres of enamel. The scene where Mabel refuses Charlie's kiss, is reminiscent of a real-life occurrence about this time, when Charlie was rebuked by Mabel, as he tried to kiss her. He had previously been successful, but it seems that Mabel had a rule – one man, one kiss. As Adela Rogers St. John once said, 'Mabel was unusually pure'.

The film is the usual Keystone cut-price job, where a movie is made without a set or expensive scenery. As Mack Sennett usually had a car entered for the race, it's highly likely that none of the cast paid an entry fee – the organizers probably welcomed the free publicity (in later years Mabel also entered cars for certain drivers). Mabel, incidentally, can be said to have been a cut-price actress, as she needed few supporting assets beyond herself. Consequently, she was popular with the smaller studios, although giants like Paramount avoided Mabel, due, shall we say, to her irreverent personality. In fact, Mabel had threatened to brain the founder of Paramount Adolph Zukor and Mack Sennett with a heavy book, during Zukor's visit to Keystone.


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