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Mabel at the Wheel (1914)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  18 April 1914 (USA)
5.6
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 352 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 4 critic

Charlie, competing with his rival's race car, offers Mabel a ride on his motorcycle but drops her in a puddle. He next joins some dubious characters in abduction of his rival just before ... See full summary »

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Title: Mabel at the Wheel (1914)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Villain
...
Mabel
Harry McCoy ...
Mabel's Boyfriend
Chester Conklin ...
Mabel's Father
...
Reporter / Newsreel Director
Dave Anderson ...
Henchman (as Andy Anderson)
Joe Bordeaux ...
Dubious Character
Mack Swain ...
Spectator at Races
William Hauber ...
Mabel's co-driver
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Storyline

Charlie, competing with his rival's race car, offers Mabel a ride on his motorcycle but drops her in a puddle. He next joins some dubious characters in abduction of his rival just before the race for the Vanderbilt Cup. With her boyfriend locked up in a shed, Mabel takes his place. Charlie does what he can to sabotage the race, even causing Mabel's car to overturn. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy

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Details

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Release Date:

18 April 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Hot Finish  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Chaplin's quarrelling with Mabel Normand on this film almost ended Chaplin's film career. He disagreed with her ideas for comedy and she was quick to dismiss his own ideas for more refined comic business. An argument ensued (according to Chaplin in his autobiography, one or two extras had wanted to 'slug' him but Normand had stopped them) and filming for that day was called off. Mack Sennett heard about the argument and planned to fire Chaplin at the end of the week. However, the day after the argument, Sennett received a telegram from New York asking frantically for more Chaplin films. Sennett smoothed things over between Normand and Chaplin by taking them to dinner and the film was happily completed. See more »

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Featured in The Funniest Man in the World (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Young Chaplin demonstrates versatility in the role of Snidely Whiplash
17 July 2002 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Mabel at the Wheel is one of those movies with a behind-the-scenes story that's more interesting than the movie itself. This was Chaplin's tenth comedy for Keystone during his year of apprenticeship, and his first two-reeler. Here he played one of his last out-and-out villain roles (although the feature-length Tillie's Punctured Romance was yet to come), and it also marked one of the last times he would work for a director other than himself. In fact, Chaplin's conflicts with director and co-star Mabel Normand almost got him fired from the studio.

Chaplin hadn't gotten along with his earlier directors, Henry Lehrman and George Nichols, but according to his autobiography having to take direction from a mere "girl" was the last straw. Charlie and Mabel argued bitterly during the making of this film. Chaplin was still a newcomer at Keystone and his colleagues didn't know what to make of him, but everyone loved Mabel. Producer Mack Sennett was on the verge of firing Chaplin when he learned that the newcomer's films were catching on and exhibitors wanted more of them A.S.A.P., so Chaplin was promised the chance to direct himself in return for finishing this movie the way Mabel wanted it.

In light of all this it's appropriate that Charlie and Mabel are at odds during much of Mabel at the Wheel. In the opening sequence Charlie is courting Mabel and offers her a ride on his bike, but she tumbles off into a mud-hole and, soon afterward, Charlie reveals his villainous nature. We notice right away that Chaplin looks odd here, sporting a goat-like beard on his chin and wearing the top hat and frock coat from his very first film appearance, Making a Living. The outfit suits the over-sized, Ford Sterling-style villainy he displays. He's certainly no gentleman. When Mabel strikes him across the face he promptly hits her back, and during the course of the film he sticks a pin in almost everyone's derrière. What a mean guy! The central plot concerns an auto race in which Mabel's beau (Harry McCoy) is scheduled to compete, but wicked Charlie and his henchmen abduct the lad, and Mabel must take the wheel in his place. For all the racing around, brick hurling and finger-biting the film is frankly short on laughs, but there are some points of interest. There's good cinematography and editing in the race sequence, though there aren't really any gags, just lots of frantic activity. Visible in the stands at the race track are several Keystone stalwarts such as Chester Conklin, Edgar Kennedy in a strangely dandified get-up, and a more characteristic Mack Sennett, hawking up spit and doing his usual mindless rube routine. As a performer Sennett was about as subtle as the movies he produced, but you have to give him credit: he knew what people liked. These films were hugely popular in their day. Mack's performance doesn't add much to Mabel at the Wheel, but he probably had to be on hand for the filming just to make sure his stars didn't murder each other.


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