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.
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
Oh, it has been work looking for a film for today’s date. IMDB had plenty to choose from but, I couldn’t seem to get any further information from the others…Wikipedia, American Film Institute, Turner Classic Movies… Even the Silent Era site and Silent Hollywood were slim pickings and, Silentology had nothing.
Anyway, one hundred, five years ago, today, Episode #17 of The Hazards of Helen, The Death Train, was released. Similar to The Perils of Pauline, The Hazards of Helen was a film serial or series that ran from November 7, 1914 to February 24, 1917.
There were 119 episodes that were 12 minutes long, most of which have been lost. Based upon a novel written by John Russell Corvell and a play written by Denman Thompson, W. Scott Darling adapted the material for the silent screen and Edward T. Matlack wrote The Death Train, specifically. Directors were J. P. McGowan (1-48) and J. Gunnis Davis for the rest. The original actress was Helen Holmes (1-48), followed by Helen Gibson for the remainder of the series, with Anna Nilsson filling in for Holmes for Episode #18.
The discovery that detectives are on their trail causes Doyle, Broden and Etzer, counterfeiters, to pack their paraphernalia into a trunk and express it to Lone Point. Upon its arrival at that station, a corner of the trunk is smashed. Helen thus learns of its contents. The telegrapher immediately wires to Savage, a railroad detective. The latter, accompanied by Duncan, a Secret Service detective, hastens to the scene. At their suggestion, Helen arranges a trap for the counterfeiters. When the latter appear, they are set upon by the officers. Etzer is captured but, his pals get away. Doyle eludes pursuit but, Broden later falls into Savage’s hands. Helen, watching the pursuit, ventures on the high trestle which crosses the dry bed of the Loro River. Doyle, who is hiding, sees Helen. Overpowered by a desire for revenge, the man attacks the telegrapher and makes her a prisoner. A rope lies nearby. Binding Helen, Doyle suspends his victim from the trestle and fastens the end of the line around the rails. Duncan sees this from afar. Although he rushes forward, he knows that the Keene local, due any moment, will cut the rope as it crosses the trestle. Meanwhile, Helen, after a tremendous effort, frees her hands. There is one chance for life. The girl commences swinging her body. Each time, she [manages] a wider arc. The train is crossing the trestle when Helen swings toward a beam. The engine wheels sever the rope. Helen flies through the air and reaches the beam. Doyle is captured. Savage and Duncan raise Helen to the tracks and find her uninjured.
Moving Picture World
This is one of the lost pieces so, there isn’t a YouTube clip and I could only find one picture. ~Vic