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The Extra Girl (1923)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 28 October 1923 (USA)
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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Anna Dodge ...
Ma Graham (as Anna Hernandez)
...
Aaron Applejohn
...
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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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

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Release Date:

28 October 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Millie of the Movies  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Sue Graham: Pop, the whole country is mad over oil.
T. Phillip Hackett: That's one business I do know.
Sue Graham: Pop, you've must hit while the iron's hot.
Zachariah 'Pa' Graham: How much can I make on fifteen thousand dollars?
T. Phillip Hackett: I expect to double my money.
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Connections

Featured in The Great Chase (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wardrobe Girl versus Duke the Lion
2 December 2016 | by See all my reviews

This is not the usual Keystone comedy that we associate with Miss Normand. However, it should be understood that no 'Madcap Mabel' pictures had been produced since 1916, and the last of these contained little slapstick. The post-Goldwyn Sennett films are a build up to Extra Girl, which may be seen as the culmination of Mabel's art.

Extra Girl is a Cinderella story – sort of. The twist is that the heroine, Sue Graham, does not find happiness by marrying a prince, but an old friend. This plot is in total agreement with a then-current Hollywood maxim that no-one should come to tinsel town expecting to be put into movies, let alone become a star. Of course, Sue does go to Hollywood, but, for several reasons, finds life very tough indeed.

In the early scenes, Mabel is very pretty and passes tolerably well for the teenage small-town girl Sue with her banana curls. However, when she throws her arms around Ralph and exclaims 'My Sheik', the straining in her neck and face put more than a few years on her apparent age. By contrast, when she falls back into Ralph's arms, her face becomes relaxed and Mabel is instantly, and radiantly, beautiful. She is, fleetingly, the dying Cleopatra.

Mabel demonstrates a whole repertoire of facial expressions and eye movements while showing Ralph her acting ability. These are definitely worthy of the 'old Mabel'. Curiously, Mabel also uses certain facial expressions that are reminiscent of Stan Laurel. Now Stan didn't use these until after 1930, and after Mabel had collaborated with him at Hal Roach studios. I leave it to others to determine where the 'world's greatest mimic' got his famous face from. Elsewhere Mabel uses some of the classically cute Keystone Girl actions, like the poignant wave from the train, her head forward and one shoulder pulled up protectively (last seen in Mabel At The Wheel). Equally cute is the way she leans forward and points while delivering a firm message to the studio owner (also seen in Suzanna).

In this film, Mabel is fairly slim, but not overly so. Compared to the Mabel of, say, 'A Spanish Dilemma' (1912), Mabel does seem strangely flat chested, indicating, perhaps, that the common Sennett practice of chest strapping was used here. It is also clear that in some scenes, especially later in the film, Mabel looks quite ill and drained. Apparently, scenes requiring Mabel to look out of salts (e.g. when she was being married off and when her acting career was failing) were filmed on her worst days. The effects of the W.D. Taylor scandal cannot be underestimated in respect of these observations. It is odd to see Mabel in the film lying in wait for the swindler of her parents with a gun, considering the W.D. Taylor affair – a joke too far. The effect is doubled, as the Courtland Dines shooting occurred just after the film's completion, and another Dines affair weapon, a bottle, appears in the scene. Other aspects of the film that may reflect reality are the location of the Graham household at River Bend and the great swindle. Mabel had a good friend, Helen Holmes (of 'Hazards of Helen' fame), who originated in South Bend Indiana (like River Bend, between Pittsburgh and the Rocky Mountains). Helen's family were swindled of their money when they first moved to California.

Mabel ends up being a wardrobe girl, but persuades a director to give her a screen test. Due to various events the test turns out to be a hilarious farce. The wardrobe girl is wearing an old-fashioned crinoline hooped dress with the usual long pantalettes underneath. Unbeknown to her, as she bends over to pick some love letters up she exposes her white pantalettes, which have acquired the black imprint of a prop man's glove (she sat on the glove earlier). Everyone behind the camera begins to laugh, including Mack Sennett who has suddenly appeared in the scene. Was he there to ogle Mabel in her underwear, or was he there to laugh at the joke?

The best part of the film occurs later on when Mabel leads a lion around the studio thinking it is the Keystone dog, Teddy. It is hilarious to see the various actors running for their lives, while Mabel walks around totally oblivious to the danger. Mabel herself told a story about the director making her come close to the camera with the lion in tow, following which there was a sudden noise in the studio. This unnerved the lion who jumped and knocked Mabel flat, whereupon he bit into her posterior. However, it transpired that the 'bite' was the penetration of a pointed implement wielded by the director in order to drive the lion off – he'd missed! After the lion breaks away he chases Mabel around the studio in the old cranked-up way, with our heroine jumping and jerking in the old cranked-up way.

The Dines affair should have destroyed the box-office take of this film. However, Mack and Mabel (who had a 25% stake in the profits) made a supreme, nationwide effort to save it and were successful in their efforts. In court, nonetheless, Mabel ridiculed the prosecutors, and, as the newspapers were quick to relay, affected a pompous English accent and made continuous 'French' hand gestures. Mabel's career trickled away following the affair, and Mack canceled her next film 'Mary Anne'.


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