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That Ragtime Band (1913)

Professor Smelts the band leader gets into a romantic rivalry with one of his musicians over the affections of a pretty girl.


Mack Sennett




Cast overview:
Ford Sterling ... Professor Smelts
Mabel Normand ... Mabel
Nick Cogley ... Trombonist
Raymond Hatton ... Trumpet Player
Alice Davenport Alice Davenport ... Mabel's Mother
Edgar Kennedy ... Stage Manager
Charles Avery ... Sousaphone Player
Rube Miller ... Acrobat
Laura Oakley ... Tall Fatima Sister


Band leader/clarinetist Ford Sterling is a romantic rival to trumpeter Raymond Hatton for the affections of pretty Mabel Normand. Sterling enters an amateur night contest at the local vaudeville house, where stage manager Edgar Kennedy gives the quick hook to most of the lame acts. Hatton positions himself in the audience across from Mabel and leads his fellow hecklers in taunting Sterling. Hatton's arsenal contains half-rotten fruits and vegetables which he throws at the haplessly helpless Sterling with amazing accuracy. Finally he heaves a pie that has managed to keep hidden under his jacket, and it glances off clarinetist. Attempting to return fire, Sterling errantly hits Mabel square in the chops with the pastry. The angry recipient of the first thrown pie the face in movie history enthusiastically joins the rest of the audience in throwing anything and everything at the band leader, who has lost the girl but gained the hook. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy







Release Date:

1 May 1913 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Band See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Keystone Film Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is often touted as the first film in which a pie was throne. It is first thrown by Raymond Hatton and it hits Ford Sterling. Later he picks it up and throws it, errantly hitting Mabel Normand, whom he was courting. See more »

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User Reviews

Ford the German and Mabel the Soaking Wet
10 November 2016 | by ducatic-82290See all my reviews

Isn't Keystone Mabel simply gorgeous and ooh, soo sweet in this single reel of total nonsense. The lead is clearly meant to be Ford Sterling as the German (why were they always German?) bandleader. However, for us viewing today, the ex-circus clown comes over as a crazy, over-acting fool. We must remember that Edwardian audiences simply loved this type of stuff – Ford hadn't been over-exposed at this point. As for Mabel, she saves the film for us, and in her shimmering satin dress, goes through her entire repertoire. First we have the fickle Mabel gaily chatting up one bandsman, then, after a long pout, turning her attention to the band-leader. Her little girl lost routine with her mother (Alice Davenport) is delightful, and it is amazing how quickly her expression changes later, when the possibility of an engagement ring appears on the horizon (this could be the early real-life Mabel, before she became bored with shiny things). The excitable, bouncy Mabel is revealed when's she's ready to attend the band's practice session at the local hall.

At the hall there is some trouble between the band-leader and Mabel's first suitor. When Mabel arrives, she's delighted to see her bandsman, and thinks he's a cool dude with his crazy upside- down 'Kaiser Bill' mustache. Mabel's series of expressions, when the band-leader kicks the dude out, are a joy to see. Fickle Mabel then returns, when Ford makes a seemingly successful play for our girl. During the actual competition at the hall, bedlam breaks out among the various acts, and as usual Mabel is in her element among the chaos. The vegetables and pies hurled at the band are clearly expected, but the pie in Mabel's face, and the hosing down of the audience by Sterling is unexpected. Note that gum-chewing extra, Jewel Carmen, makes a very quick exit as the hose is turned on, while poor starlet Mabel, and her lovely dress, must stay and face the soaking. Mack Sennett, it should be noted, always disappeared from shot just before a drenching occurred.

At this time the word 'jazz' had only just arrived, so it is no surprise that this is a Ragtime Band and not a Jazz Band. Unfortunately, a Ragtime band has a (honkey-tonk) piano as its main instrument, so the title could merely be there to make the film seem trendy. However, this might well have been a joke, as audiences would have recognized that this was no Ragtime Band, and, consequently, was as false as Sterling's ridiculous gesticulating. It was many years later that some newspapers termed Mabel a 'Jazz Babe'.

The thinly disguised 'hookers', who perform on the stage are hilarious, but the people living at the real-life Los Angeles addresses shown on their advertising boards, could not have been amused. Of course, it could be that the addresses were those of genuine bordellos, which would make this, perhaps, an early example of advertising within a movie. Dead smart was Mack Sennett. It is interesting to note that an extra in this film, Jewel Carmen (alias Evelyn Quick), was herself involved in a sex for money and blackmail scandal at this time. She claimed immunity on the grounds that she was under-age and a white slave victim, although it was later found she was 23 years old. No other Keystoners were involved, but the majority of the company decamped for Mexico, and did not return until the case had been dropped by the police. Perhaps the 'hookers' in the film are there to give the 'finger' to the law, Keystone style. As a footnote, Carmen was later involved in the suicide, or murder, of actress Thelma Todd, Todd's body having been found in Carmen's garage.

Note: When the band march down to the hall, they do so along Allesandro Street, past the original building on the Keystone/Bison lot. All the buildings shown are probably around the Keystone lot. The line of trees, where the bandleader confronts the trumpet player, are the same ones in Mabel At The Wheel, where Chaplin and Mabel throw bricks at each other. Photos show a similar line of trees at the back of the Keystone lot.

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