The best-known comic actress of the silent era, Mabel Normand appeared in over a dozen films with Charlie Chaplin, and a whopping seventeen(!) with Fatty Arbuckle. A pioneer, she also produced, directed and wrote her own films — and at the height of her career, had her own movie studio. Although Molly O’ was meant as a comeback vehicle for Normand, her association with a string of lurid scandals — from Arbuckle’s Virginia Rappe incident, to the murder of director William Desmond Taylor (which revealed their love affair and her cocaine habit, plus the shooting of a playboy by Normand’s chauffeur) — destroyed her career. Still, she remains one of the great artists of the era. In Molly O’, the daughter of a washerwoman and a ditch-digger falls in love with one of America’s most eligible bachelors, much to the indignation both of her working-class would-be suitor and the doctor’s would-be bride. The painful repercussions that follow serve only to thrust her into her dream man’s arms, and all looks set for a fairytale ending, until the disgruntled rival finds a way to get back at Molly through her family. Live musical score by regular Cinefamily accompanist Cliff Retallick!
Dir. F. Richard Jones, 1921, 35mm, 80 min. (Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)