Madcap Mabel


Mabel Normand contemplates the world wide web.

Another interesting silent website has cropped up, once again the devoted work of Marilyn Slater and David B. Pearson, devoted to the life, work and legacy of silent comedienne Mabel Normand. Titled Madcap Mabel, it chronicles her success in film, as one of the few women to star in comedy features after working with the likes of Charles Chaplin and Roscoe Arbuckle, and her slide into scandal and an all-too-early death, just as the age of talking pictures was getting underway.

I sometimes wonder if Mabel's life had gone differently, without scandals like the murder of William Desmond Taylor to sully her reputation. Certainly her feature The Extra Girl deserves to be ranked with the works of the likes of Langdon and Lloyd.

There are also a handful of movie clips, like this one from The Water Nymph (although it lacks a certain...something...that was vividly apparent when I saw it projected in 16mm on a big screen).

Pearson is also one of the forces behind The Blue Book of the Screen and Stars of the Silent Photoplay as mentioned elsewhere in these pages.

5 comments:

Tom Sutpen said...

Stephen wrote:

I sometimes wonder if Mabel's life had gone differently, without scandals like the murder of William Desmond Taylor to sully her reputation.

*****
I love Mabel Normand, but I don't think she would have survived much longer than she did. The Taylor imbroglio merely sped up a personal descent that had started long before.

Certainly her feature The Extra Girl deserves to be ranked with the works of the likes of Langdon and Lloyd.

*****
Hear hear! "The Extra Girl" is a vastly superior film to the better-known Keystone feature, "Tillie's Punctured Romance", which would probably be more obscure had Chaplin not appeared in it. I've never much cared for it.

swac said...

I guess the illness would have happened anyway, I always wonder if she'd been able to hang on and make talkies...but if wishes were horses...(pun unintended).

I don't much care for Tillie's Punctured Romance either, I've never been able to make it all the way through. But I understand there's a new archival restoration that at least puts the film in the best possible light (all I've seen are foggy dupes at the wrong speed), which I would watch if I had the opportunity.

Marilyn Slater said...

My oh my, I’m so please that you found the Madcap Mabel site. It was worth all the work; I’m rather pleased by the way it turned out. For the record the UCLA version of Tillies Punctured Romance is wonderful, clear and finally makes sense with the addition of the missing screens. I saw it last summer at the Academy in Beverly Hills with terrific live music. Although, I must admit that Marie Dressler’s theatrical style is a little over – the - top and is a bit jarring with the more natural movements of Charlie and Mabel. But the dance between Marie and Charlie is just plain funny. Also I want to mention that a copy of Head Over Heels, a Goldwyn 1922 feature film starring Mabel Normand will be shown for the first time since it was found! For years it was rumored that it had been found and was being re-mastered, now at Slapsticon (July 28-31 Arlington VA/Washington DC) we can see her as the ugly duckling Italian acrobat. What fun!

swac said...

Thanks Marilyn! I simply adore Mabel, and I appreciate your labour of love. I may even try and make it to Slapstickon...I have family in the D.C. area, and I'm overdue for a visit...

Anonymous said...

Just an update on Mabel and her found film HEAD OVER HEELS
Slapsticon has posted a number of my photos at there website
http://www.slapsticon.org

Marilyn of MADCAP MABEL
marilyn@mabelnormand.com