Mabel's New Hero (1913) Poster

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Just another day at the beach
wmorrow594 July 2016
Here's a lively sample of Keystone comedy from summer of 1913, when vigorous mugging and impulsive action ruled the day. The 'Mabel' of the title is, of course, Mabel Normand, and happily in this one-reel frolic she's paired with Roscoe Arbuckle. At this point he was still a newcomer to the troupe, comparatively speaking, but it didn't take long for studio boss Mack Sennett to recognize that Roscoe made an ideal screen partner for Mabel. They played off each other beautifully, and audiences took to them right away.

This short begins in Mabel's home, where she ushers in two young ladies who are friends of hers, albeit ones whose company she doesn't appear to enjoy all that much. When Roscoe shows up a-courting, complete with a bouquet of flowers, Mabel is embarrassed. The young ladies can barely restrain their mirth, and soon depart, sure to gossip about the situation. But they are accosted by Handsome Harry, a cad who seems to believe he's God's gift to women. He pesters them all the way to the beach, and practically follows them into the ladies' changing room. Meanwhile, Mabel and Roscoe proceed to that very same beach, and soon Harry is hassling Mabel, even spying on her while she changes clothes. She and Roscoe attempt to ignore the masher and enjoy themselves, but naturally enough, conflict erupts.

Spontaneously—because that's the way things happen in a Keystone comedy—Mabel clambers into the basket of an observation balloon, without actually intending to take the thing aloft. But dastardly Harry loosens the rope which anchors the balloon to the ground, and before you know it, Mabel is soaring overhead. Roscoe, assisted by a pack of eager but maladroit Keystone cops, tries to reel her in, without much success. Eventually, plucky Mabel shinnies down the rope to safety, and Harry is foiled.

It's all very simple and straightforward, and pure Keystone. The only mystery here is the title: who, exactly, is Mabel's new hero? We can see that Roscoe is her boyfriend, but despite his best efforts he isn't especially heroic. When Harry makes a nuisance of himself, Roscoe is unable to protect Mabel or retaliate against the pest; worse still, a projectile he throws at Harry hits a blameless cop. And although Roscoe struggles mightily to rescue his girlfriend in the finale, his efforts fail to yield results. Meanwhile, it would appear that Mabel is no helpless weakling. At one point during all the scuffling, she hauls off and delivers a solid punch to Harry's face. And when she's endangered in the balloon, and the guys prove to be ineffectual, she succeeds in saving herself. Could it be that Mabel is her own new hero? From the evidence on display here, she certainly should be!
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Mable In a Hot Air Balloon
jayraskin14 November 2012
Mable seems a little embarrassed about her new boyfriend, Roscoe Arbuckle. She giggles with two girlfriends about him. He is a quite clumsy fellow. Arbuckle does a very nice backwards fall here. Arbuckle and Normand go to the beach. In the meantime Charles Inslee comes on as Handsome Harry, a cad looking to prey upon Mabel's friends. They rightfully avoid him. After some shots of Mabel and Fatty in their swimsuits, Mabel ends up in a runaway hot air balloon. The Keystone Kops come to the rescue. However, the Kops and Roscoe just get in each other's way, so that it is really Mabel who has to rescue herself.

This is the Keystone Kops' fifth appearance for Mack Sennett and they are not given very much to do. They are only on screen for under two minutes. They are barely distinguishable from each other, as we only see them in medium long shots.

This is a fun movie with some nice chemistry between Mabel and Roscoe. It moves fast and it has the elements for a good Keystone comedy. The mix isn't quite there yet, but the comedies were rapidly improving at this time. It was released in August, 1913.
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