Mabel at the Wheel

Mabel at the Wheel is a 1914 American motion picture starring Charles Chaplin and Mabel Normand, and directed by Mabel Normand and Mack Sennett.

Mabel at the Wheel
Normand and Chaplin in a still from the film
Directed byMabel Normand
Mack Sennett
Produced byMack Sennett
StarringCharles Chaplin
Mabel Normand
Harry McCoy
Chester Conklin
Mack Sennett
Al St. John
Joe Bordeaux
Mack Swain
William Hauber
CinematographyFrank D. Williams
Distributed byMutual Film
Release date
  • April 18, 1914 (1914-04-18)
Running time
18 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English (Original titles)


Charlie offers Mabel a ride on his two-seater motorcycle, which she accepts in preference to his rival's racing car. Unfortunately, as they go over a bump, she falls off into a puddle. The rival, who has followed in his car, picks up the now stranded Mabel. He lets her drive, sitting tight beside her.

Charlie at last notices she is gone and falls off the bike. He sees them together now stopped and standing beside the car. They leave the car for a short while and Charlie lets down the rear tyre. His rival returns and is furious. They throw rocks at Charlie and he throws them back. The rival's friend appears and gets caught up in the rock-throwing confusion.

We cut to "The Auto Race" where Charlie hovers round the cars. The drivers usher him away when they see he has a sharp pin. Charlie stands puffing heavily on a cigarette. He uses his pin to get through the crowd, where he propositions Mabel and gets slapped. Charlie then whistles and two thugs appear and kidnap his rival just before the race starts. But Mabel decides to don his racing clothes and take the wheel in his place.

As the race progresses, despite a very late start, Mabel, with a co-driver beside her, manages to gain a lead of three laps. Charlie with his henchmen, tries to sabotage the race by using oil and bombs on the track. The oil temporarily spins Mabel's car, no.4, around and it goes backwards for a lap until the oil spins it around again to continue the right way. The car tips over on a bend but a group of men push the heavy Bentley V8 upright again. Meanwhile, the rival escapes his ropes and sees Mabel driving his car. The crowd stand as she crosses the finishing line. The rival and his friend go to congratulate her. Meanwhile, Charlie throws a bomb in the air and blows up both himself and his two thugs.


A reviewer from the New York Dramatic Mirror wrote of the film, "The bright particular star who carries the lead [in Mabel at the Wheel] is Charles Chaplin. Long acquaintance with the speaking stage, and a naturally funny manner of appearing have made him, in the three months' experience that he has had in motion pictures, second to none. Mabel Normand carries the female lead with her usual bright success. This is a Keystone comedy, having said which you proceed to qualify with all the adjectives standing for funny, burlesque, grotesque, farcical or screaming that you can think of, and leave with the fear that you have not done it justice. Yes, there is no sense in it, as usual."


See also

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