Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Updates and Corrections

This blog was created, in part, to serve as a place to make updates, additions and corrections to details in Mack Sennett's Fun Factory when new information comes to light. Here is the first such installment:

1) MR. BRAGG, A FUGITIVE - cast additions
MR. BRAGG, A FUGITIVE (released on October 2, 1911), was one of Mack Sennett’s early directorial efforts for Biograph. At the time my book was completed, I had not been able to locate any prints or stills that would enable me to identify any cast members. Thus, it was listed with cast as "unknown" on p. 259 of the filmography.

However, my “silent comedy mafia” compatriots Steve Massa and Ben Model (curators of many great comedy film programs at New York’s Museum of Modern Art) recently viewed a rediscovered print of MR. BRAGG, A FUGITIVE at MOMA, and Steve reports that the cast includes Fred Mace, Vivian Prescott, Tony O'Sullivan, Dell Henderson and Donald Crisp. Thanks Steve and Ben!

2) Mabel Normand as director of MABEL’S LATEST PRANK, MABEL’S BLUNDER and HELLO MABEL
MABEL’S LATEST PRANK, MABEL’S BLUNDER and HELLO MABEL are three Mabel Normand-starred Keystone one-reelers which were filmed between late July and early September, 1914. As I explain in the introduction to the filmography, I largely used two primary sources for director credits for Keystone-Mutual comedies: 1) the New York Motion Picture Company negative record, and 2) the Keystone releases list. At the same time, I tried to avoid using any Keystone director’s credits from “American Film Index, 1908-1915,” which are wildly inaccurate with regard to Keystone films (something also covered in detail in the filmography introduction) and unfortunately still the source for many Keystone credits that appear on www.imdb.com and other websites. However, the two primary Keystone sources for director’s credits are largely blank for the last half of the year 1914, leaving many of these directorial credits open to conjecture.

In my book, I use braces {} around any credits that were speculative, and in the cases of MABEL’S LATEST PRANK, MABEL’S BLUNDER and HELLO MABEL (on pp. 300-301), I speculatively credited them to Mack Sennett as director. This was based on the fact that the negative record did credit Sennett for the Mabel–starred films just before and after this trio (Mabel had directed herself earlier in the year, up until April). However, Mabel Normand historian and authority Marilyn Slater – who created and maintains the Looking for Mabel Normand website – reminded me of the fact that Mack Sennett was in New York attempting to sell TILLIE’S PUNCTURED ROMANCE during much of late July to early September. DUring this same time, trades such as Motography (August 29, 1914) and Moving Picture World (September 19, 1914) refer to Mabel Normand directing again, without providing any specific titles. But it was during this period that these three films were made.

So while the director’s credits for MABEL’S LATEST PRANK, MABEL’S BLUNDER and HELLO MABEL are still officially speculative (pending the discovery of primary source data to concretely confirm it), it is most likely that Mabel Normand did direct these three films, rather than Mack Sennett. Also, in the filmography entry for MABEL’S BLUNDER, the character, played speculatively by Helen Carruthers, was mislabeled as “Mabel’s Friend” when it instead should have read “Harry’s Sister.” And, I should add here that MABEL’S BLUNDER was recently selected to The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, alongside 524 other important films.

3) Biography Section
Two updates - the bio for Irene Lentz (p. 522) states that she was in Paris for a couple of years, but it was actually a couple of months. And in the bio for Ben Turpin (p. 551), it says he died at age 65, but it should have said that he died at age 70. At the time I originally wrote the Turpin biography, his widely-believed birth year was 1874. Then my pal Steve Rydzewski wrote his outstanding multi-part article on Ben Turpin in the great Slapstick! Magazine (which Steve himself founded and edited) in which he revealed that Ben was actually born 5 years earlier in 1869. At that point I updated Ben’s birth year in my bio, but neglected to update the age he died.

4) Photo Captions
Lastly, a pair of last minute identifications on photo captions yielded some misspellings. In the caption on p. 98, Bert Roach’s first name was misspelled “Bery,” and on p. 112 Charlotte Mineau’s last name came out “Minear.”


  1. Thank you, Brent, for letting us know about Noah Young and your additions and corrections to your fantabulous book...


  2. Steve, thank you for letting ME know about Noah (that almost rhymes)!

  3. There are more then 4 Updates and Corrections,these points are useful for us.

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