Mabel at the Wheel (1914)

Still: Mabel at the Wheel

The National Archive restoration of Mabel at the Wheel was derived principally from four sources. The bulk of the new negative comes from a nitrate print held at the National Archive and had a running time of about1400ft. This was a WH Productions reissue called His Daredevil Queen. The other prints used were a tinted positive from about 1919 held at the Netherlands Filmmuseum and another WHP positive from the Library of Congress. These two prints contributed some extra material, particularly of the racetrack scenes and longer shot lengths. Another element held at the bfi National Archive was a section of anther WHP version of around 1920 running at about 600ft which had extra scenes. The titles were based on the WHP and made to conform to the Keystone template.

Mabel at the Wheel is a two reeler with a slightly convoluted narrative so that care had to be taken to get the ordering of shots correct, particularly with the cutting between the racetrack footage and the action with Chaplin and his villainous partners in the final part of the film. Wet gate printing has resulted in a clearer picture allowing the viewer to appreciate the appeal of Mabel Normand's natural and modern acting style as well as giving an insight into Chaplin's experimentation with character and screen performance. The outcome is a comedy with a modern feel.

With the Keystone two reelers it was usual to have a break between reels to allow the projectionist time to lace up the second reel. There were title cards to indicate the pause.

Title card Title cards

Print sources

  • Nitrate positive of the W H Productions reissue, His Daredevil Queen (National Archive) at 1407ft.
  • Tinted positive of 1919 reissue (NFM) 1400ft approx.
  • Tinted positive of a W H Productions reissue (Library of Congress) with English titles at just over 1200ft
  • Positive W H Productions reissue (National Archive) 600 ft length from reel 2 which had some extra scenes

Mabel at the Wheel was originally released on 1914 as a two reeler

Original running time 1900ft / 579m. Length of restored print 1400ft+ 428m