Mary Jane’s Mishap (1903)

Article 5257 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-28-2016
Directed by George Albert Smith
Featuring Laura Bayley
Country: UK
What it is: Slapstick short

Mary Jane attempts to light her stove with paraffin. Carnage ensues.

To be perfectly honest, Mary Jane isn’t a paragon of wisdom; the opening sequence has her incompetently trying to polish a shoe and then liking her new look when the polish gets on her face. The incident with the paraffin pretty much takes her out of the gene pool. The comic exaggeration was what I would have chosen as the fantastic content here were it not for the fact that an unexpected coda to the action occurs at someone’s grave (you can guess whose), and we get the appearance of a ghost. This one is a bit on the goofy side, but it’s likable just the same.


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