Today is the anniversary of the release of the all-star Keystone comedy Mabel’s Busy Day (1914).
This is one of those shorts that, rather annoyingly, nowadays gets marketed and written about as a “Chaplin comedy”, though the star is Mabel Normand and the director is Mack Sennett. Chaplin has an important role, but he is a supporting player.
Mabel’s Busy Day is one of many Keystone films improvised at a live event, in this case, a car race. The disposition of a box of hot dogs constitutes the entirety of the plot. Mabel is a seller of frankfurters. But she is not doing very well. She is sad and discouraged. Most people aren’t buying her hot dogs, although several steal some. Hassled by Keystone Kop (Chester Conklin) she bribes him with a frank so she continue hawking her wares. Meanwhile gate crasher Charlie evades Kops so he can make his way into the stadium. Encountering Mabel, he steals one of her hot dogs, then makes off with the whole box, giving them away to strangers. Mabel gets the Kop involved. Melee ensues.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy including Mabel Normand, don’t miss my recent book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc