Flick Friday: Barney Oldfield’s Race For A Life 1913

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Barney Oldfield Amazon IMDb Image
Image Credit: IMDb & Amazon

One-hundred, ten years ago, today, the black & white, silent comedy short (13 min., 14 sec.) Barney Oldfield’s Race For A Life was released. Directed & produced by Mack Sennett, it starred Mabel Normand, Sennett, Ford Sterling, Barney Oldfield, Raymond Hatton, William Hauber, Helen Holmes, Rube Miller & Carmen Phillips (per IMDb). Wikipedia is a bit different and I’m not sure why. Additional actors are Hank Mann, Al St. John and The Keystone Cops. Usually, cast listings match between IMDb & Wikipedia, as well as release date. The release dates don’t match, either…off by one day.

Virtuous Mabel rejects the improper advances of a villainous cad. The furious villain, and his henchmen, then seize Mabel and chain her to a railroad track. Mabel’s anxious boyfriend turns for help to the great Barney Oldfield, who jumps in his racing car and speeds to the rescue.

IMDb Storyline

A lady, Mabel Sweet and Lovely, is courted by a gentleman, A Bashful Suitor. He offers her a corsage, which she accepts. They coyly share a kiss. After the Suitor leaves, the Villain appears and grabs the lady. She hits him and escapes. This angers the Villain and he vows to get his way. At the next opportunity, the Villain, once again, kidnaps the lady, this time with the help of two henchmen and chains her to the railway tracks.

The three villains travel by handcar to the station, where they assault two workers and steal a locomotive engine. The villains drive the train back towards the location of Mabel, who is still tied to the tracks. The railyard worker alerts the Suitor about the situation, who then rushes to ask his friend, racecar driver, Barney Oldfield for help.

The two friends jump in the automobile and race the speeding hi-jacked locomotive to rescue the damsel in distress. Mabel is dramatically saved at the last moment and is carried away to safety. The foiled villain kills his accomplice and shoots five Keystone Cops arriving by handcar to arrest him. Finally, he turns the gun on himself but, upon discovering the bullet chamber empty, he drops dead in a rage.

Wikipedia Plot Summary

11 thoughts on “Flick Friday: Barney Oldfield’s Race For A Life 1913

    christiansmusicmusings said:
    June 2, 2023 at 9:40 PM

    Wow, fascinating, I just watched the entire film!

    Kenneth T. said:
    June 3, 2023 at 7:43 AM

    Love triumphs!

    doerfpub said:
    June 5, 2023 at 10:12 PM

    I am captivated by two things while watching this ..a) who first thought of tying someone to train tracks, that is a pretty horrific way to go and b) how hard it would be to convey this storyline if everyone had to wear masks…makes you feel for all the kids that had to go through that ridiculous stunting of their development.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      June 5, 2023 at 8:25 PM

      I’m not sure where the train track tie-up comes from…other than dying by car, back then, was rare. Stomped by horses would be more common.

      Yeah. The mask thing. Don’t even get me started on that crap…

    Badfinger (Max) said:
    June 12, 2023 at 10:52 PM

    It’s hard to believe it’s been that long ago! I’m not a huge Mack Sennett fan but I have to give the man credit…he did a lot for comedy. He signed Chaplin but Chaplin was subtle and Sennett was anything but…
    Mabel Normand was a babe and a half. I’ve seen regular pictures and she was gorgeous…they put too much pancake makeup on her.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      June 14, 2023 at 1:13 AM

      In my research, there was a piece of info I ran across. Apparently, Chaplin did some rare Keystone Cop stuff.

        Badfinger (Max) said:
        June 14, 2023 at 1:22 AM

        He did a few and then found the Tramp…after that he did a few and was counting days down to when he could leave. It’s been a while but I believe he was there a year….then he went to Essanay and then he made his best shorts at Mutual.
        I used to know him like I did The Beatles…but it’s been a while. I didn’t double check what I told you but I believe it’s right.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          June 14, 2023 at 1:35 AM

          Works for me. You have your in depth favorites.

            Badfinger (Max) said:
            June 14, 2023 at 1:38 AM

            Only one comedian to me was the better filmmaker and that would be Buster

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              June 15, 2023 at 1:51 AM

              Oh, yeah. Forgot about Keaton…

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