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Mabel at the Wheel

23m Short, Comedy 1914

In the leadup to the Vanderbilt Racing Cup, Mabel’s car-racing boyfriend is abducted by a bunch of goons led by his rival, played by an early-career Charlie Chaplin. With the race underway, Mabel takes matters into her own hands.

While Mabel at the Wheel is often remembered as one of the earliest films in Charlie Chaplin’s onscreen career, the film also marks the early days of its star Mabel Normand’s career behind the camera after well and truly establishing herself as a comedy star. In these early days of cinema, it was common for women to work in creative roles in film – something that would, unfortunately, shift later in the century – and Normand’s career would branch out into producing and running her own studio.

Correlating with women working more in creative roles, the representation of women – in this example of driving cars – is significantly different in 1914 compared to mid-century when Hollywood became big business.


Mabel Normand


Mack Sennett




United States

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