Mabel at the Wheel (1914)

Genres - Comedy  |   Run Time - 33 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Phil Posner

Mabel Normand wrote, directed and starred in Charlie Chaplin's 10th film for Keystone. After disagreements with the directors of his previous films, Sennett assigned him to Normand, but Chaplin was chomping at the bit to direct his own films so for this film at least, the Chaplin/Normand relationship was not any better. It is another Keystone that takes advantage of a public event, an auto race, for background. Chaplin plays the motorcycle-riding villain of the film, dressed in frock coat and top hat (similar to his costume in his first film, Making a Living). Mabel's boyfriend, Harry McCoy, is a racecar driver who comes to Mabel's house to take her to the racetrack, but they argue because Harry won't let Mabel drive. Charlie comes along on his bike and offers Mabel a ride, which she accepts to make Harry jealous. When the cycle hits a bump, Mabel is thrown off and lands in a puddle, unnoticed by Charlie who goes on talking. Harry comes to her aid, they reconcile, and he lets her drive the racecar. Charlie, having noticed Mabel's absence, finds them together and tries to win her back, but is rejected. He decides to ruin Harry's chances of winning the race, beginning with puncturing one of the tires on his car. Later Charlie and his henchmen kidnap Harry and tie him up in a shed, forcing Mabel to drive in the race. Determined to stop Mabel from winning, Charlie and his men soak the track with water and throw bombs at the car, but Mabel's driving skills prevail and she wins the race, much to the chagrin of Charlie who, in a fit of rage, blows himself and his henchmen up with their last remaining bomb.



bomb, driver, hero, motorcycle, villain