Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life (April 24, 1913)
Released on April 24, 1913: Race car driver Barney Oldfield races a locomotive to save Mabel, who has been chained to the railroad tracks by the villain.
Produced by Mack Sennett
Directed by Mack Sennett
Written by Mack Sennett
The Actors: Barney Oldfield (himself, race car driver), Mabel Normand (Mabel), Mack Sennett (Mabel's bashful boyfriend), Ford Sterling (a villainous rival), Raymond Hatton (villain's loyal henchman), William Hauber (cop and a villager), Helen Holmes (villager), Rube Miller (villager and train engineer), Carmen Phillips (villager)
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Who do you think you are, Barney Oldfield?
If you asked me to name someone today that everyone in the country would know, I would probably suggest Paris Hilton, or Michael Jordan, or maybe Tiger Woods. If we were talking about pioneers who broke new boundaries I might mention the first man in space, John Glenn. In 1913 the same question would bring only one answer . . . Barney Oldfield. He was so well known that a common saying back then was, "Who do you think you are, Barney Oldfield?" In 1913, as automobiles were slowly replacing the horse and buggy, Barney Oldfield was the fastest man alive . . . He was the first person to drive an automobile at the outrageous and dangerous speed of 60 miles an hour! His need for speed began as a teen when he raced bicycles, and at a bicycle race one day he met Henry Ford, who asked Barney if he would like to try out one of Ford's new horseless carriages, and the rest, as they say, is history. Barney Oldfield raced Henry Ford's new automobiles against the likes of Alexander Winton and other automobile pioneers and he made his name and Henry Ford's cars known in every home in America. He ran the first 100 mile an hour lap at the Indianapolis Speedway in 1914, a year after this movie was made. In this 'made for Barney Oldfield' story, sweet Mabel is in love with shy Mack, and our villain comes to Mabel and tries to kiss her, Mabel hauls off and slugs him and runs away . . . This doesn't sit well at all with our villain, so he and his henchmen kidnap Mabel and chain her to the railroad tracks, intending to run over her with the train. Meanwhile, back in town Barney Oldfield shows up and our bashful boyfriend gets Barney to race his car against the big train locomotive and reach Mabel in time to pull her from the tracks mere seconds before the locomotive passes by. I am told that between 1874 and 1910 about 6 people in real life were killed when tied to railroad tracks, and this is the first movie to show this horror to the world . . . a year later the famous movie serial 'Perils of Pauline' would also feature the heroine tied to a railroad track . . . both examples coming from real life events . . . wow! Pop a little bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter on it and watch the fastest man alive in 1913.
Barney Oldfield and a village girl
Barney Oldfield, Mabel Normand and Mack Sennett
Barney Oldfield and Mack Sennett race the locomotive to save the girl
Barney Oldfield and his race car
Ford Sterling, the villain
Ford Sterling and his henchmen kidnap Mabel Normand
Ford Sterling with Raymond Hatton and another henchman
Mabel is chained to the railroad tracks
Mabel Normand and Ford Sterling
Mabel Normand is chained to the railroad tracks
Mack Sennett as the bashful boyfriend
Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand