A hotdog girl gives one to a policeman who then allows her into a race track. While other customers swipe her hotdogs, Charlie runs off with the whole box, pretending to sell them while actu... Read allA hotdog girl gives one to a policeman who then allows her into a race track. While other customers swipe her hotdogs, Charlie runs off with the whole box, pretending to sell them while actually giving them away. She calls her policeman who battles Charlie.A hotdog girl gives one to a policeman who then allows her into a race track. While other customers swipe her hotdogs, Charlie runs off with the whole box, pretending to sell them while actually giving them away. She calls her policeman who battles Charlie.
The choice of costumes in this film is interesting. Charlie has abandoned the tramp look, and gone upmarket. Mabel, however, has become a kind of tramp herself, a character American audiences were beginning to understand. This particular street-vending character would have been familiar to London boy Charlie, as an Irish tinker or a costermonger's girl, thousands of whom were still walking the streets of London in Edwardian times. . Mabel told in a 1922 article, how she made a point of closely observing the ragged street-vendors of Manhatten's East Side. She mentions one girl in particular who was ragged, but made a ludicrous and pathetic attempt at being stylish. Mabel had a fascination with slums and slum-dwellers, and rather foolishly 'sleep-walked' into the still dangerous London East End in 1922.
There's one thing everyone should learn about Irish tinkers and costermonger's girls, and that is 'do not mess with them'! Being a colleen herself, Mabel has no problem falling into this part, and floors any man that mistreats her. Some of the faces she effects when confronting Charlie are enough to scare the 'bejeebers' out of anyone. Mary Pickford always thought Mabel possessed 'murderer's eyes' (admittedly, Mabel did pluck her murderer's eyebrows). Quite how Mabel completed this film at such a frantic pace is a mystery, but she is clearly drained at the end. Was she cocaine-fuelled? Who knows, but she'd completed Mabel's Married life within the next few days. It was some years later that Mabel admitted to arriving home from Keystone, falling into bed and crying herself to sleep, such was the pain that permeated her body.
Like Chaplin's derby, Mabel's hat has an air of the middle-class about it. Her bodice is rather pompous, but outdated, and like Charlie's tight tramp jacket, barely contains the buxom lass. Mabel's gingham skirt is the female version of Charlie's baggy trousers, and is an absolute scream. The bystanders find the various rents, rucks, and dangling hem, highly amusing. Finally, the shoes; no self-respecting tramp would wear the proper size, and the normally petite Mabel sports a pair large enough to swamp old 'clown's feet' Ford Sterling! Note that Mabel is not pigeon-toed as normally described, if she was so endowed she would soon have bashed her face in, romping about in those big clumpers. Minta Durfee said she always shed tears when the beautiful Mabel dressed in rags at the behest of Sennett. There can be little doubt that this 'ragged Rose' was a result of collaboration between Mabel and Charlie, the latter going on to cast somewhat similar characters (notably the 'flower girl') while the nearest Mabel came later to portraying a street-vending tramp was as a tattered domestic drudge.
Just like Charlie, the tramp-lady has some disgusting habits, and the usually lovable Mabel continually licks her fingers and cuffs her runny nose while serving the food. Note that she does not seem to shout 'Hot Dogs' but simply 'Sausages' – obviously the former term wasn't widely used at that time.
It is difficult to determine the meaning of the film's ending, but if Mabel was truly a costermonger's girl, then she would not have dared return home, where her parents (or 'man') would have administered a savage beating to her for losing the stock. Charlie, then, was already developing the humane character of his later films, by leading her away (to his home?) rather than kicking her in the derriere. Oh, how Alice Davenport must have cried at these tragic scenes; she always wept uncontrollably when Chaplin was acting on the lot.
Mabel is partially returning to her Biograph role as a tragedienne, a role for which Mary Pickford said she was eminently suited (the great Griffith thought differently and sent her to Sennett – the 'genius' later said she was no comedienne either). The relationship between Charlie and Mabel is one of the great mysteries of silent films, considering that the future of film comedy was decided, not in Sennett's watchtower office, but in Mabel's bungalow, where the talented (but very strange) pair spent long hours in discussion. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall.
- Oct 10, 2016