At Twelve O'clock (1913)

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This one-reel Keystone comedy was a takeoff of the old D.W. Griffith melodrama The Fatal Hour. When his attentions are spurned by heroine Mabel Normand, the villainous Fred Mace binds the poor girl in front of a grandfather's clock, which has been timed to fire a bullet from a rifle at the stroke of midnight. As Normand struggles to break free, Mace skulks off into the bushes, awaiting the sound of the fatal shot. Fortunately, the girl's sweetheart Mack Sennett shows up with a magnet, which he uses to move the hands of the clock backward. (Why doesn't he simply burst into the room and release Normand? Because the magnet bit is funnier!) At Twelve O'Clock was one of several films in which the lovely Mabel Normand was placed in dire jeopardy for the sake of a few laughs.