A Classic “Idora Park Story”

Mabel’s Wilful Way
R: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Mack Sennett. D: Mabel Normand, Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Edgar Kennedy, Alice Davenport, Glen Cavender. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1915
Filming Locations: Idora Park – Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California, USA

“This is another movie whose direction seems to be attributed to either Mabel, Mack, or Roscoe, depending on who you ask. (…) Unlike a lot of the other ‘park comedies’ from Keystone (…), this one obviously took place in a location away from the Sennett studios, and it may have been a spontaneous decision to grab some actors and cameras and go there, without even a script. In that situation, and with different actors performing in groups in different parts of the park, the duties might have been split, depending on who was available at the moment. (…) About that ending: I suppose that the spanking of a grown woman (Mabel would have been 22 at the time) is another example of ‘vulgarity’ in early slapstick – certainly it would have its titillating side for some members of the audience.”
Century Film Project

“Mabel’s eyes are expressively mischievous in Mabel’s Wilful Way. Watch her give a sly glance to the camera when she wrangles Arbuckle into paying for her ice cream cone, as if she’s bringing the viewer in on the ruse. She wasn’t the first to directly address the camera or break down that proverbial fourth wall, but what she did do was elevate the Mack Sennett brand of comedy from rambunctious knock-about shtick into a star-driven vehicle for the special talents of someone like Normand, Arbuckle and later Chaplin.
That’s not to say that Mabel’s Wilful Way is like an Ibsen play. There’s plenty of physical slapstick in the film, mostly from the mirthful girth of Mabel’s co-star, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Roscoe was a Sennett player who stood out from the crowd immediately because of two traits that in lesser men would be mutually exclusive: physical size and natural athleticism.
During pre-production, Mabel’s Wilful Way was referred to as an “Idora Park Story.” Idora Park stood as the shooting location for the entire one-reel comedy. It is such a delightful location, that it is easy to glance away from the shenanigans going on for the camera and take in the sights of Idora Park. (In one scene, you can spot a spectator in a clump of thick trees, trying to get a close look at Arbuckle performing for the camera.) The park was a Victorian-era trolley park in North Oakland, California from the 1890’s until 1929.”
Scott McGee
Turner Classic Movies

Mabel Norman

A sly glance to the camera…

>>> Mack Sennett and Mabel NormandA Tribute to Mabel Normand