Series: All Stars w/Mabel Normand
Director: Leo McCarey
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Photography: Floyd Jackman
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Stars: Mabel Normand, Creighton Hale, Eugene Pallette
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 30 January 1927
Length: 3 reels
Production No.: H-15
Filming dates: October 25 - November 11, 1926
Should Men Walk Home?
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Mabel stands by the side of the road trying to flag down any car that is willing to stop for her. That car belongs to amateur burglar, Creighton Hale, in his first appearance in a Hal Roach film. The incredibly flat-chested Mabel is identified as a "girl bandit" in the titles and, after accepting a lift from the stranger, she pulls out a gun and demands he hand over his wallet. A motorcycle cop pulls them over for speeding before Mabel can carry out her robbery but after she flirts with the cop he lets them off. The burglar takes pity on his hitchhiker and writes her a check. She sees the amount of one thousand dollars and gets excited; though she initially fails to realise the check is fake when he then signs it from "Santa Claus". She proposes that the two of them should work together.
Their target is the home of a wealthy billionaire (did they have billionaires back in 1926 when this film was made?) where the owner has hired a dim-witted detective to guard a precious jewel placed in a safe that he intends to present to his wife later in the evening. The burglar and his girl bandit arrive with other guests and immediately spot the detective looking at them so they hide in a room to avoid him. Their suspicions are confirmed when they spot the detective following them up the stairs so they set a trap for him to fall through the door and in doing so the detective loses his badge. The burglar picks it up and identifies himself as a detective and his lady friend as his sister before planting three full-on-the-lips kisses on her! The burglar tells her to distract the detective whilst he picks the safe and removes the jewel from it, which he does before the detective sees the burglar standing behind him threatening to smash a vase over his head in a mirror. As the detective begins the frisk the burglar, the girl ends up getting her hand stuck in the vase which the burglar tries to remove from behind a curtain without the detective seeing. As the vase breaks free it is revealed that she is holding the jewel in her hand.
The chase is on and the detective gives pursuit downstairs. The burglar goes to throw the jewel to the girl but it lands in an indoor fountain. The detective interrogates Mabel as the burglar gets into the water to find the jewel. After about a minute of swimming around he finds it and resurfaces to see the detective looking for him so he removes one of the life-size heads from the fountain display and replaces it with his own. When this routine exhausts itself the burglar exits the water and the chase continues before he dumps the jewel in the punch bowl which is about to be served. One guest (Oliver Hardy) is keen to sample the punch but is thwarted every time by the girl who knows the jewel is in it. This comical routine ends with the guest falling over a serving cart. He tries several more times but is removed from the scene by the burglar (twice) [see favourite bit].
The girl, meanwhile, spots some punch being served to the host and more importantly the jewel falling into his glass. She pretends to be ill so that she can take his glass and drink from it, catching the jewel in her mouth without him noticing. Just then, the detective comes crashing through a door to announce that the jewel is gone. The host orders that the doors be locked and the guests searched as the girl runs away upstairs where a half-naked child is in the process of being examined by a nurse. The kid runs downstairs where the shocked guests look on. The burglar and the girl make a quiet escape and tell the detective that from now on they are going to play it straight. The detective shakes the burglar's hand, which releases a ton of silverware from the burglar's jacket. The end.
This guest being put in his place - in the corner like a naughty boy. Priceless expression from Hardy in a scene-steeler!
• Copyrighted January 14, 1927.
• Released as part of Hal Roach's "All Star" series, with Mabel Normand as the star of the film.
• Some sources incorrectly list this film as a 2-reel short and give a release date of February 6, 1927. The film is definitely 3 reels.
• A beautiful restoration of the film was released on DVD/Blu-Ray in December 2018 and added as a bonus on the "Atoll K" release from BFI.
• A poor quality version of the film can be viewed/downloaded from here.
• The gag involving the water fountain was later re-used with Stan Laurel in "Early To Bed".
• The house number is 2505.
• This was the first Hal Roach film for Creighton Hale.
• At least one source lists Blanche Payson as an unidentified member of the cast. I believe this is wrong.
• The burglar writes Mabel a check for $1000 and dates it December 3rd 1926. He also signs it "Santa Claus". This is shown on screen. Shortly afterwards when Mabel looks at it we see a close-up of the check and it is a different check. He only wrote one, so it ought to be the exact same one as before but if you examine this screenshot comparison you can tell they are different. For one, look at the "S" in Santa Claus. God bless the art of freeze-frame screencaptures from DVDs!
• After Mabel dips the top half of her body into the fountain her nipples can be seen through her dress in the next shot. See here.
• Oliver Hardy - without his moustache, makes a brief appearance as one of the guests who samples the punch bowl. He first appears on screen at around 19 minutes and his screen time lasts for approximately 1 minute 58 seconds. Hardy later appears for another 30 seconds when Creighton Hale orders him away from the punch bowl; and again for approximately another 30 seconds when he tries for a third time; and again for 15 seconds after a fourth attempt.
• It has been suggested that two of the guests are played by Russ Powell and Dorothea Wolbert - but after publishing this information on the site they were both challenged by multiple sources and therefore removed and both relegated to the unidentified section.
What the experts say
• "It's amazing how Oliver Hardy's 3 minutes of screen time can be remembered more than the 25+ minutes of screen time offered by the leading star Mabel Normand." ~ Lord Heath.
The girl bandit
The Amateur Burglar
Detective, Intelligence Bureau
Party guest at punch bowl
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David Glass (assistance)
Jesse Brisson (identification of F.F. Gueneste)
Brent Seguine (identification of Charles Meakin)
This page was last updated on: 24 April 2021