Mickey (1918)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Satire  |   Release Date - Aug 1, 1918 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 73 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Hal Erickson

To mollify his restless top star (and former sweetheart) Mabel Normand, comedy producer Mack Sennett presented her with her own production company in early 1917. The first and only effort to emerge from The Mabel Normand Feature Film Company was Mickey, a six-reel melange of comedy, melodrama and romance. Western tomboy Mickey (Normand) is sent East to live with her wealthy aunt, who treats the poor heroine like hired help. Her misery is elevated somewhat when she falls in love with Wheeler Oakman, but villainous Lew Cody (who ten years later became Normand's real-life husband) complicates matters. There are several charming and delightful scenes in Mickey, ranging from raucous slapstick to gentle whimsy, but overall the film is clumsily constructed, coming to at least four potential climaxes (in one, Mickey disguises herself as a jockey to win an all-important race, while in another, she is pursued throughout a rickety old barn by the rapacious Cody), before screeching to an abrupt halt at the end of reel six. Mack Sennett was unhappy with the results and placed Mickey on the shelf for nearly a year, while Mabel Normand left his employ to sign on with Sam Goldwyn. Then, almost by accident, Mickey was released and became an overnight hit, accumulating enormous sums of money wherever it played (many theatre owners nicknamed the film "the mortgage lifter"). Seen today, Mickey proves beyond a doubt that Mabel Normand was the most gifted comedienne of her era, even though the film itself barely does justice to her talents.