Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, XXVI edizione
Pordenone, 6-13 ottobre 2007

Hello, Mabel!
Programme notes by Steve Massa

MABEL’S DRAMATIC CAREER (Keystone Film Co., US 1913)
Regia/dir: Mack Sennett; cast: Mabel Normand, Mack Sennett, Alice Davenport, Virginia Kirtley, Charles Avery, Ford Sterling, Charles Inslee, Roscoe Arbuckle, Dave Anderson, Edgar Kennedy, Paul Jacobs, Gordon Griffith; data uscita/released: 8.9.1913; 1 rl.
Didascalie in inglese / English intertitles.

As the wronged sweetheart of country ape Mack, Mabel gets her revenge by finding stardom and family happiness through the movies. Mabel’s Dramatic Careeris an early Keystone that’s a particular treat for film historians, as it not only gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Sennett studio, but also a good depiction of what the average neighborhood cinema was like in 1913. This version of the film is a recent restoration by the American Film Institute, which was made from an original 35mm release negative from the collection of Bob Geoghegan, and has around 3 minutes of footage not found in standard circulating prints.

MEET THE STARS #8: STARS PAST AND PRESENT (Republic Pictures Corp., US 1941)
Regia/dir: ?; f./ph: Robert Tobey; narr: Harriet Parsons; cast: Gene Autry, Sally Eilers, Judy Canova, Louise Fazenda, Charlie Murray, Eddie Quillan, Wesley Ruggles, A. Edward Sutherland, Eddie Gribbon, Mack Sennett, Dorothy Davenport Reid, Mae Busch, Richard Bennett, Walter Abel, Charles Ray, Minta Durfee, Edgar Kennedy, Chester Conklin, Jack Mulhall, Walter McGrail, Wheeler Oakman, George “Gabby” Hayes, Mary Lee, Smiley Burnette, John Wayne, Ann Miller, William Farnum; 35mm, ?? ft., 6’ (24 fps).
Versione inglese / English dialogue and narration.
Republic Pictures had been the old Mack Sennett studio, and in 1940 they dedicated a stage on their lot to Mabel. This segment from a Republic publicity newsreel captures the mingling of stars from the Mack Sennett past with those of the Republic present (1940). Although it’s a bit disconcerting to see Gabby Hayes and Smiley Burnette given comedy bits instead of Chester Conklin or Edgar Kennedy, it’s fun to pick out Mabel’s old co-stars, and the footage is climaxed by Sennett’s eloquent and touching speech.

HEAD OVER HEELS (Goldwyn Pictures Corp., US 1922)
Regia/dir: Victor Schertzinger & Paul Bern; scen: Julien Josephson & Gerald C. Duffy; sogg./story: Nalbro Isadorah Bartley; f./ph: George Webber; scg./des: Cedric Gibbons; cast: Mabel Normand, Hugh Thompson, Raymond Hatton, Adolphe Menjou, Russell Powell, Lilyan Tashman, Lionel Belmore, Laura La Varnie; data uscita/released: 20.4.1922; 5 rls.
Didascalie in inglese / English intertitles.

The very last of Mabel's features for Samuel Goldwyn, this was shot in 1920 but not released until the Spring of 1922 due to Goldwyn's financial troubles. Despite it being a charming and very entertaining film it almost immediately vanished, as did the rest of her Goldwyn pictures. For decades What Happened to Rosa? (1921) was the only known survivor of that group of 16 films, but in 2001 two films resurfaced. The Floor Below (1918) was found and restored by the Nederlands Filmmuseum, and Head Over Heels (1922) mysteriously turned up in a basement in Massachusetts. This author was one of the people lucky enough to become involved in identifying the film and helping to get it preserved (along with Kim Tomadjoglou, Bob Gibbons, Steve Garfinkel, Susan Selig, and J.E. Allen). The Porter family bought a house in the early 1960s, and when they moved in it was empty – except for 5 cans of 35mm nitrate. How it got there no one knows. At that point the film was 40 years old, and it then spent another 40 years in their basement before family members began making a few calls to check on what it might be. Amazingly the material was in wonderful shape; all that had decomposed was the last 5 minutes of the picture. Head Over Heels was preserved by the American Film Institute at Cinema Arts Lab with funding by The Film Foundation.

SHOULD MEN WALK HOME? (Hal Roach, US 1927)
Regia/dir: Leo McCarey; scen: Alf Goulding & Albert Austin; didascalie/titles: H.M. Walker; f./ph: Floyd Jackman; mo./ed: Richard Currier; cost: Lambert; supv: F. Richard Jones; cast: Mabel Normand, Creighton Hale, Eugene Pallette, Oliver Hardy, L.J. O’Connor, Edgar Deering, Fay Holderness, Gloria Lee (double for Mabel); data uscita/released: 30.1.1927; 2 rls.
Didascalie in inglese / English intertitles.

Should Men Walk Home?is Mabel’s final film appearance, and a fitting swan-song as it’s one of her all time best comedies. In it she joins forces with Creighton Hale as a pair of slow-on-the-uptake crooks who are after a jewelled brooch. Superbly directed by Leo McCarey, the film gives Mabel the chance to show her stuff in the more sophisticated late 1920s Hal Roach style of comedy, which makes good use of her gift for small, intimate comedy moments, and shows that she could have continued on into screwball comedy if her health hadn’t given out. Expert support is given by a fairly thin Eugene Pallette, and a scene-stealing Oliver Hardy practically walks off with the picture.
This is not a Giornate premiere: Pordenone veterans still recall the delight that greeted the screening of
Should Men Walk Home? in the “Forgotten Laughter” presentation of 1994.