At it again

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
The Moving Picture World (2 november 1912, p. 421)
Foreground, from left to right: Mabel Normand, Ford Sterling, Fred Mace and Mack Sennett.

At it again is an American silent movie, directed by Mack Sennett, produced by Keystone Film Co., distributed by the Mutual Film Corporation, released on 4 november 1912 (in USA), Black & White. Split-reel (with Mabel's Lovers).

The two detectives, Myred Face (Fred Mace) and Sack Mennett (Mack Sennett), are wearing the cliché Sherlock Holmes outfits. Plot summary: see reviews.

Survival status: unknown.




At It Again (review december 1912)

The Moving Picture World (december 1912, p. 69)
The Moving Picture World (december 1912, p. 70)
The Moving Picture World (december 1912, p. 71)
The Moving Picture World (december 1912, p. 72)
The Moving Picture World (december 1912, p. 73)

By Lulu Montanye

In which the famous sleuths continue to follow into the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes, with no hopes of catching him.

Not the least bit put out by the sudden termination of his dazzling, but, on the whole, unsuccessful career in New York, Myred Face, gentleman detective, crossed the Continent to Los Angeles, and opened offices there for the detection of crime and of baffling mysteries in those intricate cases that were so often woodenly handled by the police. As he had settled deep in his ulster in the Pullman, he had realized, with delight, that his inseparable side-partner and fellow sleuth, Sack Mennet, was not his traveling companion. The fact is that he had deliberately shook him.

They had worked out together their first famous cases, braving the perils of high society and the underworld, but then, suddenly, had come reverses. They had bungled some highly important cases, and, henceforth, Face, the more daring of the two, had decided to start a clean slate, alone.

He had barely established himself in his new quarters, when a tall, thin man, dressed as a steam-fitter's helper, presented himself, and started belaboring his office radiator with a hammer. It was in August, and melting hot, with the windows thrown open, and Face stood the mechanic's pother as well as he could.

Presently he got up softly, crossed over back of his peace-disturber, and looked fixedly at the kneeling man's shoes. They were of a stylish last, but caked with mud on the soles.

"Ah!" said Face, in an even tone, "it is Sack Mennet, and no other."

The noise on the radiator ceased, and the tall mechanic turned a sheepish, injured face toward the speaker.

"Yes," he admitted, slowly, "it's me — but how did you spot me, Myred?"

"It was the acme of simplicity, bonehead," answered Face. "The noise at the radiator apprised me that some one was in the office, the inappropriateness of a steam-fitter in August warned me of a disguise, and I had only to notice the caked mud on your soles to complete the discovery."

"I had first thought of appearing as an iceman," began Mennet, somewhat sadly, "but that role has been done to death.

"Tell me, Myred," he burst out eagerly, "what the mud on my soles——"

"Nothing more simple. That particular kind of mud is found in quantity only around the excavation of the New York subway. As soon as I recognized it——"

"But I've brushed my shoes repeatedly since then," protested Mennet.

"It makes no difference," said Face. "Why argue ? With your lack of theory and imagination, you will never make a great detective."

The late steam-fitter was silent for a long moment.

"At any rate," he resumed, "I found you again — give me credit for that."

"Yes," admitted Face; "you have me there. How did you do it?"

"I will begin in the categorical method," said Mennet, sententiously, "by asking you: Do you remember the chauffeur who drove you to the Penn. Railroad Station?"

"I do not, nor never will. I walked to the Central."

"Oh, punctures ! Have it your own way. Do you happen to remember the organ-grinder who followed you on foot, then?"

"Yes," said Face, puffing excitedly on his calabash. "Was it you?"

"Certainly, fathead!" cried Mennet, triumphantly, "and the handorgan was nothing but my trunk, ready .packed. I had but to jump on the Pullman, change clothes——"

"S-s-h!" said Face, suddenly.

"Did you hear a step on the stair?"

"Let me investigate," said Mennet, his instincts aroused.

"No; by the time you have found a clew on the stairs, the person will have moved either up or down."

It was as Face had predicted. The sound of hurried feet continued on up the stairs, and, presently, a knock came upon the door.

"A woman," said Mennet; "no one else would knock on an unlocked door."

Face seated himself at his desk, rustled some documents sharply, then called out : "Come in."

The door opened, and a diminutive young lady, with a very flushed face, advanced timidly into the office.

"Is this the office of Mr. Myred Face?" she inquired.

"I am he," said Face, with a slight inclination of his head.

She looked wonderingly at the easy attitude of the steam-fitter in a Morris chair.

"Pray be seated," said Myred, hurriedly, "and do not be embarrassed at the presence of my coworker, Mr. Mennet, who has just returned from a highly important investigation of the organ-grinders' union."

"Steam-fitters," corrected Mr. Mennet.

"I have come to consult you," she began, "about the actions of my husband, Mr. Nehemiah Smith." She paused to brush a fugitive tear from her peachblow cheek, which made the steam-fitter sigh in a hollow manner.

"Mother," she resumed, "always wanted me to marry a middle-aged man — she said I was too romantic — so I finally fell for the attentions of Nehemiah, who was the proprietor of the swellest barber shop in town. All went well — Nemmy was a model husband, until he decided to increase his business by carrying a line of theatrical wigs for chemical blondes. From that day," she faltered, "Nemmy has not been the same."

"Calm yourself," said Face, gallantly. "It is shockingly cruel — I, too " He left off abruptly, his head bowed with memories.

Mennet came to his rescue. "My colleague's researches," he began, "in the field of chemistry have been profound. She was the dearest old lady !" he exclaimed, and ended, as Face glowered at him fiercely.

"What made me decide to consult you," said the little lady, abruptly, "was the receipt of this unsigned letter, which intimates that Mr. Smith has transferred his affections."

Face took the sheet of scented notepaper which she held out to him, and scrutinized it closely thru his magnifying-glass.

"To the profession which honors me," he said, "this simple missive whispers a hundred little stories; but, first, let me ask you : Have you consulted the police department?"

She shook her glossy curls emphatically.

"Then," advised Face, "there is no time to be lost. In the detection of crime — or in this case, let us hope, only a passing fancy—there is, nothing so inconspicuous as the conspicuous. We will, therefore, proceed to track your husband in a touring-car, in which vehicle he would not be likely to notice you."

"Why not use a fire-engine?" breathed Mennet, ironically, but Face's pretty client began to appreciate his cleverness. "I'm so glad I came to you," she said, demurely.

She was rather frightened, tho, at the elaborate preparations of the detectives for their trip. The roomy pockets of their tweed ulsters seemed to swallow an armory of revolvers, brass-knuckles, and even handcuffs.

As the car bowled along, too, toward her bungalow in the suburbs, with the two determined men in fore-and-aft caps on either side of her, she decided that she was become heartily sorry of the peril she was invoking for Nemmy.

But it was too late to revoke. Already the car had drawn up to the curb, a few doors from her home, and the inexorable men at her side were watching it.

Presently the front-door slammed, and a well-preserved man, in his shirtsleeves, came out, and walked slowly down the street, shaking his head in perplexity.

Mrs. Smith almost screamed as Face grasped her arm. "It 's my husband," she panted; "tho what he is doing at home——"

"Silence!" said the detective. "I was unable to see his face ; but what I have noticed convinces me that the man is a consummate actor: his slamming of the door, his perplexed manner, and his coatlessness."

"I should deduce them in his favor," said Mennet.

"You tyro! of course you would," sneered Face. "You reason from the evident. The whole thing was a fine bit of acting to disarm suspicion."

Mrs. Smith was now convinced that her husband was in the clutches of unerring justice. Still she hesitated, as she descended from the car, in leaving him altogether to the mercy of his pursuers.

"Whatever happens," she said, the tear coming on her cheek again, "do not use those horrid things in your pockets."

Face and Mennet bowed impressively.

"It is only in extreme cases——" began one.

"When the bearded lamb becomes a lion" commenced the other. But the chugging of the motor, as the car started, cut off their fateful conclusions.

Under Face's direction, the car trailed along at a snail's pace, keeping just within sight of the unconscious Nehemiah. For the first time, they noticed that he was carrying a small, white box. Presently he turned into a side street of small shops, and was lost to view. The detectives stopped the car, and, ordering the chauffeur to await their return, immediately followed their quarry.

As has been said, it was a piping hot afternoon, approaching dusk, and the sleuths cannot be blamed for the extraordinary events that now occurred.

It had so happened that, at the solicitation of his buxom wife, Nora, the celebrated Police Captain Larkin, also in his shirt-sleeves, had gone around the corner to a little shop for a box of ice-cream, tho, personally, he preferred the contents of a two-quart pitcher. It was Nora's birthday, and he had made up his mind to go right home.

Thus it was, as Face and Mennet turned the corner and opened up the side street to their view, that they came almost face to face with their supposed victim, carrying his little, white box.

Face, with rare presence of mind, took out his calabash, lighted it, and stared at space with the vacuity of an English tourist. Mennet sank deep into his ulster.

Captain Larkin, however, humming a bit of a song, had no sooner turned his own corner than they were after him like hounds.

The happy officer ascended his steps, and was greeted by Nora, in the doorway, with a boisterous hug. Perhaps he had never come home with such a harmless package before.

"Trapped!" said Face, his eyes glinting, "and now to business. I had thought at first of engaging rooms across the street, disguised as a teacher of music, and of weaving the net from there, but, now that the husband is caught flagrante delicto, we have but to make the arrest and notify his wife."

"Whatever that is," murmured Mennet. "By the way, my part is to notify wifey."

"Not at all," said Face; "send the car back for her."

"You dont mean that you're going?" demanded Mennet, paling. "Smith looks like a peevish person, when aroused."

"Nonsense! We will make the arrest together — Mrs. Smith having stopped at the station-house, and bringing up reinforcements in the car."

"I see. If Smith proves an ugly customer, the sight of his wife and a flock of policemen in the car should cool him somewhat."

"Yes — after we have held the spotlight, they can do the dirty work."

Face, being a man of action when the time came, drew his revolver, and stealthily approached the house. Mennet ran around the corner, whispered to the chauffeur, and returned.

Even as Face held his finger on the button, in a long, sickening ring, he could see, thru the parlor window, the husky, faithless Smith fold the woman to his breast again.

As the chain was slipped from the door, Face and Mennet stood tense, with leveled weapons. The joy of the chase shone from their refined faces.

The culprit stood cowering before them.

"What the d———" he said, and started to close the door. But Face stuck his foot against it, and flashed his badge in the hall-light.

"Silence!" he commanded. "Come with me — in five minutes she will be here to view your shame."

Mennet succeeded in slipping the slide of his bull's-eye, and its beam caught the Captain full in the face.

He made passes, as in a nightmare, then lowered his hands, with resignation, before the battery of weapons.

Face slipped the handcuffs over them, and led him out to the street. It is true that Nora Larkin kept up a running fire of mixed abuse and entreaty from the parlor window, but they treated her as a fallen angel, and proceeded firmly on their way.

A crowd collected, and impeded their progress in this hour of triumph, even as far as the corner. At the self-same instant the musical humming of a high-power car could be heard coming down the asphalt, with three policeman leaning far out of the tonneau. A pretty, young woman, with a tear ever on her cheek, was sandwiched in among them.

At sight of her, a shirt-sleeved, middle-aged man in the crowd stared till his mild eyes were popping from their sockets.

Not so with Captain Larkin. At sight of the bluecoats and waving nightsticks, his chest expanded, as does a South American generalissimo's before his army.

"Casey, O'Reilly; this way!" he shouted.

With a final chug, the car slowed down, and the bluecoats shouldered a path thru the crowd. Before the handcuffed prisoner they halted, saluted, and became men of bronze.

Mennet looked at Face, and his features became convulsed with bitterness, as he noted the Roman grandness of his pose and expression.

"Wake up," he said; "the ball's been knocked over the fence again."

"Flagrante delicto," said Face, imperturbably, "which means——"

"To the cooler with them," roared Captain Larkin, in unconscious interpretation.

In the tonneau, the middle-aged man was kissing the tear from the peachblow cheek.

At It Again (review 2 nov 1912, p. 421)

The Moving Picture World (2 november 1912, p. 421)

This picture revives the travesty on Sherlock Holmes, in which Mack Sennett and Fred Mace won unbounded popularity. A woman receives an anonymous letter advising her that her husband is flirting, and engages the detectives. They track the wrong man and spy on him, arresting him in his own home while making love to his own wife. It develops that the man is a police captain, and the "sleuths" are punished for their error.

At It Again (review 2 nov 1912, p. 492)

The Moving Picture World (2 november 1912, p. 492)

AT IT AGAIN (Nov. 4). — Mrs. Smith receives an anonymous letter stating that her husband is untrue to her, and she calls upon the detectives to shadow him. Smith comes home and, finding his wife away, goes out to look for her, in his shirt sleeves. Mrs. Smith points him out to the detectives, and they start on his trail.

In the meantime Larkins, a police captain, is at home with his wife, and goes out to buy some ice cream, also in his shirt sleeves. As Smith enters a house Larkin comes out, Just as the detectives turn the corner, and they, thinking Larkin is Smith, follow him. When Larkin returns home his fond wife makes much of him, all of which is noted by the detectives at the window. They finally decide to arrest him, and a furious scene is raised by the indignant Larkin and his wife, but to no avail, for Larkin is dragged off. In the meantime they have notified Mrs. Smith and she is on the way to meet them with three policemen. and Smith himself comes up at the same time. When Larkin and Smith get through with the detectives they have learned the painful lesson that it does not pay for a detective to make a mistake.