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The Extra Girl (1923)

Sue Graham is a small town girl who wants to be a motion picture star. She wins a contract when a picture of a very pretty girl is sent to a studio instead of her picture. When she arrives ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Dave Giddings
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Pa Graham
Anna Dodge ...
Ma Graham (as Anna Hernandez)
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Aaron Applejohn
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T. Phillip Hackett
Charlotte Mineau ...
Belle Brown
Mary Mason ...
Actress
Max Davidson ...
Tailor
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Madame McCarthy - Wardrobe Mistress
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William Desmond - Actor
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Director
Harry Gribbon ...
Comedy Director
...
Comedian
...
Actor in Wardrobe Line (as André Beranger)
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Storyline

Sue Graham is a small town girl who wants to be a motion picture star. She wins a contract when a picture of a very pretty girl is sent to a studio instead of her picture. When she arrives in Hollywood, the mistake is discovered and she starts working in the props department of the studio instead. Her parents then come out to California and invest some money with a very shifty individual. Written by Charles K. Ammons <ckammons@mci2000.com>

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Comedy

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28 October 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Millie of the Movies  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Dave Giddings: A telegram from Hollywood.
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Connections

Featured in 100 Years of Comedy (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

The Girl With Something Extra
16 September 2004 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

THE EXTRA GIRL (Pathe' Exchange, 1923), a Mack Sennett production, directed by F. Richard Jones, is a feature-length silent comedy starring Mabel Normand. With story and supervision by Mack Sennett, there's no traditional Keystone Kops nor climatic car chases, but basically a semi-comedy of one girl's dream to become a movie star and how almost everything seems to go in the wrong direction.

Opening with a title card: "Between the Rocky Mountains and Pittsburgh, but a long way from Hollywood, lies River Bend (Illinois) where the Graham family lives," followed by introduction to characters: "Pa" Graham (George Nichols), who runs a River Bend garage that was once his blacksmith shop; Aaron Appleton (Vernon Dent), a well-to-do druggist and Graham's choice for his future son-in-law; "Ma" Graham (Anna Hernandez) a wife and mother who copes with her movie struck daughter, Sue (Mabel Normand) by sitting back in her rocking chair and watching her act, as does Dave Giddings (Ralph Graves), Sue's childhood sweetheart and neighborhood mechanic. Realizing that their attachment to one another is more than "puppy love," "Pa" Graham insists Dave is to no longer visit Sue, and have Aaron calling and have her as his future bride. While answering a movie contest advertisement, Sue submits her frightful photograph. About to mail out her entry form, Sue finds she's unable to leave her parents and decides against it. Wanting to see Sue fulfill her dream, Dave has Belle Brown (Charlotte Mineau), known as the "grass widow," submit the photo herself. Wanting Dave all to herself and Sue out of the way, Belle substitutes her own photo over Sue's instead. Having not heard anything about the movie contest, Sue reluctantly agrees to please her father by marrying Aaron. Moments before the wedding is to take place, Dave arrives with a telegram that Sue has won the contest, and must catch the next train to Hollywood within fifteen minutes. With Dave's help, Sue escapes from her dreaded wedding and races over to the train station with Pa Graham and Aaron in hot pursuit. As the train pulls out, Sue watches her father at a distance and tearfully bids him farewell, with the old man waving back with his rejected would-be son-in-law beside him. Arriving at the Golden State Film Company, Sue meets with the studio manager who realizes the photos have been switched. Instead of getting a screen test, the studio manager, telling Sue to return home, decides on giving her a break working in the wardrobe department. Sometime later Dave comes to Hollywood, and to be near her, acquires employment at the same studio as a stage hand. As for the Grahams, it's Christmas and they become lonely for Sue. The couple decide to sell their home and accompany their daughter in the movie capital of the world, in spite the fact that she's not yet acted in a motion picture. Situations become more complex when Sue falls into the clutches of T. Philip Hackett (Ramsey Wallace), who swindles her parents by investing their entire savings in some"worthless oil stock.

Mabel Normand, whose movie career began with comedy shorts as early 1910, was nearing the end of her career by the time THE EXTRA GIRL went into theatrical release in early 1923. With other movies similar in theme dealing with the ups and downs of a movie hopeful (The 1926 release of ELLA CINDERS starring Colleen Moore, being one of the better ones), THE EXTRA GIRL goes a step further, taking a realistic approach as to what happens when a talented small town girl fails to succeed. Not precisely as sad as it all seems, THE EXTRA GIRL does present itself with some good intentional comedy. The most famous one involving Mabel mistaking a lion for a tamed one named Teddy, toggling the king of beasts on a rope behind her, eventually leading to a wild chase around the studio set after she discovers that she has the wrong lion. This five minute sequence must have stirred roars of laughter back then. Another funny scene finds Mabel making her screen test opposite actor William Desmond in a period setting wearing her hoop skirt and pantelettes. During the filming, she accidentally sits on a black glove leaving a hand print on her bottom tush, conveniently captured on film whenever she bends down. A screen test for a costume drama provokes laughter from the staff working behind the camera, but distresses the director, of course.

Aside from appearing a bit too old to be wearing those Mary Pickford curls during most of the story, indicating that the character of Sue Graham being a teenager or a girl of her early twenties, Mabel Normand, does show signs of exhaustion and worry, possibly due to personal problems of her own or over extensive retakes during production.

THE EXTRA GIRL, at 70 minutes (possibly longer in its initial premiere), was one of thirteen selected silent features to be presented during the summer months in the PBS weekly series of "The Silent Years" (1971), as hosted by Orson Welles, accompanied with an organ score by Jack Ward. In later years it turned up on cable television's Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: September 20, 2012, with piano score). As for her final screen appearance in a feature length comedy, the movie itself isn't as good as one would want it to be, but in spite of mixed comments and reputation, it can only be enjoyed by those who appreciate rare finds like Mabel Normand as THE EXTRA GIRL. Available on video and DVD from Kino International. (***)


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