Mar 10 2008

Film: “1914 Vanderbilt Cup Race”

The Vanderbilt Cup Race was held for the first time on the West Coast on public roads in Santa Monica, California in 1914. The actual race was captured as the backdrop for a Mack Sennett slapstick Keystone film "Mabel at the Wheel" later called "Hot Finish" starring Mabel Normand, Chester Conklin, Mack Sennett and, as the villain, Charlie Chaplin. Watch the puzzled spectators look on as Mabel and Charlie show the true meaning of "slaptick" comedy. The 1914 race was not won by Mabel Normand but Ralph DePalma in a Mercedes.

The book "Chaplin" by Jeffrey Vance noted that during the making of this film, Chaplin began to believe he could create scenarios and direct films better than the Keystone directors. When he was assigned to take direction from Mabel Normand during this film and she would not take his suggestions, Chaplin confronted her and refused to work for the rest of the day. According to Chaplin, Mack Sennett was on the brink of discharging him, but a telegram from the Keystone front office arrived clamoring for more Chaplin pictures. Sennett mollified Chaplin and Normand and they completed "Mabel at the Wheel" amicably. Chaplin would then direct virtually all the films in which he appeared.


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