I am Looking-for-Mabel

As you can tell from the name “Looking-for-Mabel, my interest is primarily in finding out about the life and career of Mabel Normand. Therefore, my focus is rather narrow but in developing an understanding of the effect this pioneer woman filmmaker had on the industry, I have found that I have recently had to look beyond the borders into the reactions of the ‘foreign’ market for American films.

The era of the Mabel influence was the teens and early twenties of the last century. ‘MICKEY’, the feature film she produced and starred in at her own studio beginning in 1916, thankful has always been available, sadly. Mack Sennett’s first dramatic feature ‘MOLLY O’ (1921 Sennett) in which she starred was thought lost until it was located in Gosfilmofund, Moscow, Russia, UCLA now is working on the restoration, you can see it but it is a work in progress. Each time I see it is looks a little better.

The films she made while under contract to Sam Goldwyn, were thought lost expect for the ‘WHAT HAPPENED TO ROSA’ (1920 Goldwyn). ‘HEAD OVER HEELS’ (1922 Goldwyn) was found and then again, a foreign archives had saved Mabel’s films for us when ‘THE FLOOR BELOW’ (1918 Goldwyn) was found by Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in the private collection of a Dutch film lover.

I have just begun this aspect of her history and as my understanding of the effect of the World War1 is rather superficial vis-à-vis the distribution of the export and import of silent films after the end of the WW1. This period is very interesting but so many tables and so many numbers!

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  2. Welcome Marilyn! Thank you for all your stellar research on the Looking for Mabel site. It truly is a model for new ways of thinking about the archive — and a wonderful resource for all of us working in this area. Also, the Looking for Mabel site is just a great example for the feminist 3.0 networked efforts — it’s very inclusive, bringing people from all over world to find and share info.


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