Troublesome Secretaries (1911)
This is another example of John Bunny’s “situational” style of silent comedy, as opposed to the more familiar “slapstick” comedy of later years. In this case, he pairs up with later Chaplin co-star Mabel Normand rather than his more typical opposite, Flora Finch. Normand, still in her teens at this time, plays Bunny’s daughter, who is secretly in love with a young man played by Ralph Ince (who also directed this, as well as “Fatty’s Affair of Honor” and “The Lucky Elopement”). Bunny wants to hire a secretary, and Ralph and Mabel conspire to make sure he hires Ralph. However, Bunny is concerned about his young charge’s interest in the new employee, so he tries hiring a female secretary. She’s in on the game, of course, so pretends to fall in love with Bunny, who has to discharge her from embarrassment. Finally, he tries advertising for old men, so Ralph puts on a white beard and dodders about, showing himself to be more feeble than any other candidate. Bunny hires him, no work gets done, and Mabel and Ralph can smooch in peace. Again, this may not work as well as a classic Chaplin short if shown to a modern audience, but it is an interesting example of the kind of thing audiences went for during the Nickelodeon period.
AKA: The Troublesome Secretaries; or, How Betty Outwitted Her Father
Director: Ralph Ince
Starring: John Bunny, Mabel Normand, Ralph Ince
Run Time: 8 Min 42 seconds.
You can watch it for free: here.