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Mabel's Strange Predicament

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This is the first film in which Chaplin wore the Tramp costume (Kid Auto Races at Venice, Cal. was photographed after Chaplin had filmed his first scene in Mabel’s Strange Predicament and—because of its split-reel length—was finished and shipped for distribution before Mabel’s Strange Predicament). This assertion is confirmed not only by Chaplin’s memories, but also by the recollections of Hans Koenekamp (the film’s cinematographer) and Chester Conklin (who plays the husband). Chaplin’s character is described as 'a drunken masher.' In his very first scene, Chaplin was savvy enough to create so much comic material that it would be difficult to cut in editing. (Sennett had been reluctant to let most shots run more than ten feet. Chaplin’s opening shot ran approximately 75 feet.) Chaplin asked Sennett, 'If it’s funny, does it really matter?' Sennett agreed with Chaplin. Mabel’s Strange Predicament was not only Chaplin’s first film as the Tramp, but also his first effort to create his own type of film comedy. Mabel’s Strange Predicament is the first of several Keystone comedies in which Chaplin reprises in some form the comic drunk he had perfected for Fred Karno. Mack Sennett was surprised by Chaplin’s youth upon their first meeting as he expected him to be much older. This prompted Chaplin to adopt the disguising moustache. It is worth noting that Chaplin also chose to apply age makeup—accentuating his nasal-labial fold lines—in an effort to appear older. It would not be repeated beyond this one film. The film’s hotel mixup situation—with Mabel Normand locked out of her room dressed only in pajamas—was engagingly provocative for the time and anticipates similar situations Chaplin constructed for Caught in the Rain and A Night Out (1915). Finished and shipped: January 20, 1914 Released: February 9, 1914 Scenario: Reed Heustis Producer: Mack Sennett Director: Mabel Normand Length: One reel
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