24 May 2018 | TheLittleSongbird
Charlie goes racing
Am a big fan of Charlie Chaplin, have been for over a decade now. Many films and shorts of his are very good to masterpiece, and like many others consider him a comedy genius and one of film's most important and influential directors.
He did do better than 'Mabel at the Wheel', still made very early on in his career where he was still finding his feet and not fully formed what he became famous for. Can understand why the Keystone period suffered from not being as best remembered or highly remembered than his later efforts, but they are mainly decent and important in their own right. 'Mabel at the Wheel' is a long way from a career high, but has a lot of nice things about it and is to me one of the better efforts in the 1914 Keystone batch and one of the better Chaplin and Mabel Normand collaborations.
'Mabel at the Wheel' is not as hilarious, charming or touching as his later work and some other shorts in the same period. The story is flimsy and the production values not as audacious. Occasionally, things feel a little scrappy and confused.
For someone who was still relatively new to the film industry and had literally just moved on from their stage background, 'Mabel at the Wheel' is not bad at all.
While not audacious, the film hardly looks ugly, is more than competently directed and is appealingly played. Chaplin looks comfortable for so early on and shows his stage expertise while opening it up that it doesn't become stagy or repetitive shtick. Not one of his most likeable characters though.
Although the humour, charm and emotion was done even better and became more refined later, 'Mabel at the Wheel' is humorous, sweet and easy to like, though the emotion is not quite there. It moves quickly and doesn't feel too long or short.
Overall, far from one of Chaplin's best but pretty good and perhaps one of his better efforts from the early Keystone period. 7/10 Bethany Cox