Film, Video Mabel and Fatty viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco, Cal. Mabel and Fatty at the World's Fair

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Mabel and Fatty viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco, Cal.
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Mabel and Fatty at the World's Fair
The 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition was San Francisco's second fair (following the 1894 Mid-Winter Fair) and her first major exposition. The 1915 fair celebrated both the opening of the newly-completed Panama Canal -- a triumph of Franco-American engineering -- and the newly-rebuilt San Francisco, vital and vigorous after recovering from the 1906 earthquake and fire. The fair opened on February 20, 1915, and closed December 4, 1915, having attracted 18,876,438 visits by several million visitors. Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle were major comedy stars of the silent screen. Mabel Normand (1894-1930) was a brilliant comedienne and prankster with an irrepressible vitality who became a Mack Sennet star. She played opposite such greats as Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle and was perhaps the most talented comic star of the silent screen. Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle (1887-1933), a vaudeville veteran, became one of Sennet's Keystone Kops in 1913 and rose to stardom. In 1917 he was accused of sexual assault in the death of starlet Virginia Rappe, who collapsed during a wild drinking party he threw in a suite of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Although acquitted, Arbuckle's career was ruined.
The following is a scene-by-scene description of the film: [Frame: 0793 (part 1)] Mabel and Fatty are seated on the cabin roof of a launch. The broken sequence was filmed in San Francisco Bay near the piers. Fatty rolls a cigarette. Mabel, dressed in the height of fashion, waves at a ship. Looking north, the camera passes from bow to midships of the battleship "Oregon," anchored off the North Gardens for the duration of the fair. Built at the Union Iron Works Shipyard in San Francisco in 1896, the Oregon foreshadowed the first naval dreadnoughts. [1550 (part 1)] Fatty and Mabel wave. [2160 (part 1)] The excited Mabel upsets Fatty's partly rolled cigarette. They kiss and make up. [2495 (part 1)] The intertitle accurately describes the elaborate jumble of exotic styles seen at the fair. We look south from a boat-mounted camera to the Court and its Organ Tower, the east central focus of the main fairgrounds. Louis C. Mullgardt was the architect of this section. The Palace of Mines and Metallurgy is on the left, the Palace of Transportation on the right. The North Gardens are seen in the foreground. [3160 (part 1)] Mabel and Fatty point at various sights. Fatty says "Nooo!" to one of her comments. Continuing the previous view of the Fair, the camera continues west (right) and looks south, passing the central north-south axis of the Fair (today's Scott Street). Beyond the Column of Progress and the Court of the Universe rises the Tower of Jewels [3827 (Part 1)], the centerpiece of the Fair. [4478 (part 1)] A small Crowley Ferry (#17 of 18), built for use in the fair, is seen at anchor. Note the train on the jetty, a Southern Pacific exhibit. The domed Palace of Agriculture is in the background. The Douglas Fir flagpole stands in front of the Oregon State Building (the cornice of which is seen briefly at right). The flagpole is in the Guiness Book of World Records, and the measured height of 251 feet included 22-feet underground. [0102 (part 2)] Intertitle: "Roscoe Arbuckle meets Madame Schuman-Heink the concert singer." The scene is on the passenger deck of a ferry, probably berthed at the Ferry Building on a windy day. Ernestine Shumann-Heink (1861-1936) was an Austrian-born contralto opera star and a noted interpreter of Wagner and Richard Strauss. [0915 (part 2)] Madame Schumann-Heink quickly silences Fatty's singing with a gloved hand. He shakes her hand, bows, and tries again. She again silences him, holding onto her hat, which threatens to fly away. [1698 (part 2)] Madame Schumann-Heink bows to the camera. [2294 (part 2)] The ferry-mounted camera looks southwest as the ferry passes the Western Union cable crossing sign and fog bell, and approaches the dock. The time is 2:35 on the tower clock. The roof sign reads "California Invites the World -- Panama-Pacific Exposition." The Ferry Building, opened in 1896 (it was finished in 1903), was the hub of all commuter traffic between the East Bay and San Francisco. Most rail lines ended in Oakland, so most out-of-state visitors also rode the ferries to San Francisco. In the 1930s it was estimated that around 50 million people passed through the Ferry Building annually, a figure exceeded only by Charing Cross station, London. [3329 (part 2)] The start of a pan to the right (southeast to northeast). In view is the streetcar circle at the foot of Market Steet, and the facade of the Ferry Building. [4418 (part 2)] The camera looks northeast down Market Street, just east of Stockton Street, possibly from a double-decker bus. In the foreground are four jitney taxi-cabs with signs in their windows (one gives "Owl" night rates). Taxis, with their mobility and convenience, became increasingly popular during the Fair despite complaints from the Municipal Railway. Buildings in the background include the white Union Trust Bank at Grant Avenue (left) and the new white Hearst Building, across 3rd Street (right). [4979 (part 2)] The camera, located on a building at Stockton Street and Maiden Lane, pans right (from southwest to west) across Union Square, with the St. Francis Hotel in the background, facing Powell Street [5496 (part 2)]. Built in 1904 and enlarged with a new north wing in 1906-07, the Saint Francis Hotel is one of San Francisco's grand hotels. Ironically, two years after this film was made, Fatty Arbuckle would be implicated in the death of a young actress at this hotel. The Gunst Building is seen at the corner of Geary and Powell Streets (left) [6005 (part 2)], and the Clift Hotel beyond, on Geary. [6347 (part 2)] The elegant new City Hall, designed by Bakewell and Brown, opened December 28, 1915. At 308 feet tall, it exceeds the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. by several feet. The camera view is northeast from a building at Grove Street and Van Ness Avenue. [6476 (part 2)]
The unfinished Van Ness Avenue facade is seen, facing west. [0386 (part 3)] Mayor Rolph descends the unfinished west steps of City Hall with Mabel and Fatty. Fatty fakes a fall, and Mayor Rolph points out architectural features to an enraptured Mabel. Note the forms for interior plaster work at the top of the steps. Popular Mayor James "Sunny Jim" Rolph (1869-1934) was mayor from 1911 to 1930. His somewhat corrupt administration built many of San Francisco's fine post-earthquake civic buildings. [1665 (part 3)] At Fatty's suggestion, the Mayor writes on his calling card as Mabel admires City Hall. [2167 (part 3)] The calling card reads, around his printed name, "11/4/15 Permitting Mr. Arbuckle and Miss Normand to take pictures anywhere in San Francisco. James Rolph, Mayor." The written date fixes the date of this sequence of the film. [3085 (part 3)] The camera is located northwest of Broadway and Scott streets (near today's Normandie Terrace), probably on an open slope above Vallejo Street in Pacific Heights. The camera pans to the right, from northwest to northeast, over most of the Fair. [3318 (part 3)] The Palace of Education and Economy is at left, the Palace of Liberal Arts is at right, and the entrance to the Court of Palms is between the two buildings. [3579 (part 3)] The camera provides a view down Scott Street to the main entrance and the Tower of Jewels. [3669 (part 3)] The Palace of Manufacturers is at left, the Palace of Varied Industries is at right, and the entrance to the Court of Flowers is between the two buildings. The Organ Tower is visible at the center. [4033 (part 3)] The large dome of Festival Hall is seen at the center. [4115 (part 3)] Built in India in 1790, the "Success" became a prison hulk in Port Philip Bay near Melbourne, Australia. In the 1880s it was fitted up as a tourist attraction at Hobart, Tasmania. When displayed at Sydney, the irate citizens sank it at the dock, offended by this reminder of their convict ancestors. Although not part of the fair, the Success was docked at Pier 14, south of the Ferry Building, during the fair. The ship was scuttled in the Atlantic around 1931. [4264 (part 3)] The camera, located on Pier 16, looking north, pans left from bow to midships. [5463 (part 3)] The captain and crew are seen at the rail. [0980 (part 4)] The captain walks with Mabel and Fatty westward from the bow to stern along the starboard deck. They begin near the bow where Fatty "winds" the windlass and continues on to the flogging frame. [1685 (part 4)] The captain demonstrates the prisoner's position on the frame. A framed cat o' nine tails hangs adjacent. [2672 (part 4)] Intertitle: "The ringed stone, weighing 2000 pounds." [3435 (part 4)] As they examine the stone, visitors climb out of the hold at right, surprised to see movie stars and cameraman. Pier 16 is in the background. [0346 (part 5)] As the captain explains the chains to Mabel, Fatty tries a little weightlifting. Climbing to the poopdeck, they examine the iron maiden. The camera looks northeast, toward the bow and distant Goat (now Yerba Buena) Island. [1120 (part 5)] Mabel climbs inside and jokes with Fatty. Bored, Fatty leans on the cover, "spiking" Mabel. She slaps him and walks off with the captain. Fatty kisses the iron maiden on the lips, wipes off the kiss, and strolls on. [3265 (part 5)] The Tower of Jewels, seen from near Broadway and Scott Street in Pacific Heights, was 435 feet tall. It was designed by Carriere and Hastings of New York. Cut glass jewels of several colors were mounted along cornices of the tower and glittered in the sunshine. Many of the stones still exist in private collections. [3636 (part 5)] The popularity of electric light -- only 25 years old at this time -- was expressed by great displays such as this nightly spectacle at the fair. The view is north from near Broadway and Scott Street. Concealed lighting illuminates most of the buildings. The Scintillator, a row of searchlights along the outer pier of the Yacht Harbor, creates a multicolored fan of light at left background. Bursts of fireworks are seen in the sky [4019 (part 5)], blown east (right) by sea breezes from the Golden Gate. [4850 (part 5)] This night view was taken from the north summit of Russian Hill, southeast of Lombard and Larkin streets (now Sterling Park). We look slightly north of west across the Zone, the 40-concession amusement wing of the fair. The Tower of Jewels and the Scintillator are seen in the distance. The Aeroscope, a 285 foot crane on a rotating base, is seen carrying visitors on a ride. At right is the illuminated mosque-like entrance of a concession originally called Somali Land, then the Mysterious Orient, and finally the Streets of Cairo! [5910 (part 5)] The camera looks east from a building at the northwest corner of East and Market streets in fading light. The "1915" sign on the 235-foot tower was in place only during the fair. The California state flag flies at its base. The clock, with a 23-foot dial, reads 7:40 pm. With increasing darkness, the 1915 sign and decorative lighting become prominent. The racing clock hands show that this section is a twelve-minute time exposure from 7:46 to 7:58. Clouds moving north suggest that a winter storm is approaching.
Contributor Names
Sennett, Mack, 1880-1960, production.
Normand, Mabel, 1894-1930, cast.
Arbuckle, Roscoe, 1887-1933, cast.
Keystone Film Company.
Paper Print Collection (Library of Congress)
Created / Published
United States : Keystone Film Company, 1915.
Subject Headings
-  Panama-Pacific International Exposition--(1915 :--San Francisco, Calif.)
-  Exhibitions--California--San Francisco
-  Exhibition buildings--California--San Francisco
-  Transportation--California--San Francisco
-  Launches--California--San Francisco
-  Ferries--California--San Francisco
-  Ships--California--San Francisco
-  Harbors--California--San Francisco
-  San Francisco (Calif.)--History
-  Oregon (Battleship)
-  Schumann-Heink, Ernestine,--1861-1936
-  Rolph, James,--1869-1934
Actualities (Motion pictures)
Short films
Nonfiction films
Comedy films
-  MP313 U.S. Copyright Office
-  Copyright: Keystone Film Company; 22Apr1915; MP313.
-  Duration: 3:16 (part 1), 3:34 (part 2), 3:24 (part 3), 2:59 (part 4), and 3:39 (part 5) at 15 fps.
-  Cast: Mabel Normand, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.
-  Photographed: January-February, 1915. Location: San Francisco, California.
-  Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as digital files.
-  Received: 4/22/1915; paper pos; copyright deposit; Paper Print Collection.
1 roll (1000 ft) : si., b&w ; 35 mm. paper pos.
Call Number/Physical Location
LC 2597 (paper pos)
Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA dcu
Digital Id
Library of Congress Control Number
Online Format
LCCN Permalink
Additional Metadata Formats
MODS Record
Dublin Core Record

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Chicago citation style:

Normand, Mabel, Cast, Roscoe Arbuckle, Keystone Film Company, and Paper Print Collection. Mabel and Fatty viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco, Cal. United States: Keystone Film Company, 1915. Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed February 26, 2017.)

APA citation style:

Normand, M., Arbuckle, R., Keystone Film Company & Paper Print Collection. (1915) Mabel and Fatty viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco, Cal. United States: Keystone Film Company. [Video] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Normand, Mabel, Cast, et al. Mabel and Fatty viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco, Cal. United States: Keystone Film Company, 1915. Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.