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Mack Sennett - TCM Spotlight
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His Bitter Pill

Groundbreaking producer Mack Sennett was known as "The King of Comedy," and his very name conjures an entire era of laughter at the movies. He helped launch the careers of numerous Hollywood stars including Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, Gloria Swanson, Mabel Normand, Fattie Arbuckle, Ben Turpin and, of course, the Keystone Kops.

In the Mack Sennett short His Bitter Pill (1916), a parody of Western films, the rotund comic Mack Swain stars as a "Big-Hearted Sheriff" (as he's called in the credits) whose childhood sweetheart (Louella Maxam) plans to marry another man (Edgar Kennedy) who turns out to be a crook. Although the film seems designed to poke fun at such cowboy heroes of the day as William S. Hart, the comedy is so relatively restrained that the story can be taken straight. Swain, known for his comic teaming with Chester Conklin, was also an associate of Charlie Chaplin and is probably best remembered today for his role in Chaplin's feature The Gold Rush (1925).

Producer: Mack Sennett
Director: Fred Fishback, Mack Sennett
Cinematography: J.R. Lockwood
Cast: Mack Swain (A Big Hearted Sheriff), Louella Maxam (The Girl He Loves), Ella Haines (His Mother), Edgar Kennedy (His Rival)
BW-20m.

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