DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE EXTRA GIRL (director: F. Richard Jones; screenwriters: story by Mack Sennett/Bernard McConville; cinematographers: Homer Scott/Eric Crockett;  cast: Mabel Normand (Sue Graham), Ralph Graves (Dave Giddings), George Nichols (Zachariah 'Pa' Graham), Anna Hernandez (Mary 'Ma' Graham), Vernon Dent (Aaron Applejohn), Ramsey Wallace (T. Phillip Hackett), Charlotte Mineau (Belle Brown), Mary Mason (Actress), Max Davidson (Tailor), Louise Carver (Madame McCarthy - Wardrobe Mistress); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mack Sennett; Mack Sennett Productions; 1923-silent)

"The restrained film succeeds as a gentle comedy, evoking a time long gone in America."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A lesser Mack Sennett silent. More interesting as a curio than anything else. Director F. Richard Jones ("Bulldog Drummond"/"The Gaucho"/"The Water Hole") keeps it lighthearted. It's based on a story by Mack Sennett and is written by Bernard McConville.

The naive young small town girl from Illinois, Mabel Normand, leaves her family, without their approval, when she wins a movie contest to go to Hollywood in the hopes of becoming a movie star. Another reason to leave is that Mabel objects to the arranged marriage with hometown boy Vernon Dent instead of with the boy she loves Ralph Graves. In Hollywood, Mabel is assigned work in the studio wardrobe department and stardom proves to be elusive. Feeling lonesome, Mabel invites her parents (George Nichols and Anna Hernandez) and childhood sweetheart (Ralph Graves), to come to Hollywood. In LA, they have a series of adventures, and the viewer gets to see how the studio operated in the early days.

The film's memorable comic moment has Mabel leading a lion around the studio on a leash mistakenly thinking it's a dog in disguise.

The restrained film succeeds as a gentle comedy, evoking a time long gone in America. Mabel Normand was 23 at the time and was considered one of the silent era's most popular comediennes. This was her last film, as Sennett released her from her contract after the film and no one else hired her. She died in 1930 from an illness. Her life was marred by the scandal that she was involved in the unsolved murder of film director William Desmond Taylor in 1922, and that she had a long history of drug and alcohol addiction. 

REVIEWED ON 4/11/2016       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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