The social climbing Flower family is comprised of Mr. Flower, a banker who has overextended himself financially, Mrs. Flower, a socially ambitious mother, Julia Flower, a marriage-minded ... See full summary »

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Madge Flower
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Earl Denham
Dorcas Matthews ...
Julia Flower
Aggie Herring ...
Mrs. Flower
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Charles Lunkin
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Earl of Larsdale
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Mr. Flower
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Letitia Jane Adams
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The social climbing Flower family is comprised of Mr. Flower, a banker who has overextended himself financially, Mrs. Flower, a socially ambitious mother, Julia Flower, a marriage-minded elder daughter and Madge Flower, a high-spirited younger daughter. When Madge is expelled from boarding school for her practical jokes and pranks, she joins her mother and sister in Palm Beach, where they are wintering, in hopes of snaring a titled husband for Julia. Julia, fearful that her little sister will impair her success on the marriage market, forces Madge to dress as a child of ten. Julia has her sights set on the Earl of Larsdale, but after a series of misadventures, Madge elopes with the young man who turns out not to be an earl at all, but a prosperous young American who is holding her father's notes. Thus, she saves the day for the Flower family. Written by Pamela Short

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Comedy | Drama

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24 June 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frøken Bilrøver  »

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1.33 : 1
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Whose little girl are you?
23 May 2006 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

The print of this film which I viewed had credits and intertitles printed on different film stock from the actors' footage ... and the title footage is older. This may explain why the title 'Madcap Madge' doesn't match the film proper, in which the main character's name is Betty. In silent films, it was a fairly common practice for film exhibitors and re-issuers to rename a character by striking a new set of titles, or even giving the film itself a completely new title ... sometimes for copyright reasons, sometimes to avoid paying distribution fees.

Once again, a film that was "lost forever" turns out merely to have been mislaid. Even happier news is the fact that 'Madcap Madge' stars Olive Thomas, an extremely beautiful and talented actress of the middle silent-film period, whose career is now sadly forgotten because of her tragic early death. 'Madcap Madge' is a splendid showcase for her comedic talents, as well as her physical agility and her beauty. One of the few things I dislike about this movie is its contrived title. How often, in real life, does anybody ever actually speak the word 'madcap'? Not very often nowadays, and I doubt that it was heard frequently in 1917.

SPOILERS AHEAD. Mr Flower (J Frank Burke) is a respectable banker who isn't as prosperous as he seems: he has overdrawn his finances, and the notes are about to be called in. His wife Mrs Flower is a snob with social aspirations (played by Aggie Herring: a name to conjure with, and an actress who looks more like a washerwoman than a banker's wife). Elder daughter Julia (well-played by Dorcas Matthews) is prim and serious: she hopes to marry a wealthy swain to improve her father's finances and her mother's social standing. The problem is younger daughter Betty (Thomas), whose practical jokes and monkeyshines are an embarrassment to the rest of her family. The Flowers have packed Betty off to a boarding school, which ought to get her out of the way ... or does it? Just as Mrs Flower and Julia are planning a husband-hunt in Palm Beach, Betty is expelled from the boarding school for her shenanigans. (I found this unlikely, since boarding schools depend on their students' tuition for their income; a student would have to be VERY unruly for the school willingly to give up that income.)

When teenage Betty lands up in Palm Beach, Julia (for contrived reasons) orders her younger sister to dress as a ten-year-old girl: an appropriate age, since Betty is acting like a ten-year-old anyway. Julia is scheming to marry the Earl of Larsdale (J Barney Sherry), a wealthy English peer. SPOILERS COMING NOW. Since our sympathies are with Betty and against her sister, it's no surprise that the earl decides that he prefers Madge to Julia ... once he realises that Betty is no ten-year-old. And the earl has been conducting a masquerade of his own: he's actually a wealthy American, who holds the notes on Mr Flower's bank! Happy endings all round.

Olive Thomas, age 18 at this time, is surprisingly believable (and appealing) as a fake 10-year-old. In her 'grown-up' scenes in this comedy, I found her quite appealing and sexy ... and, during her disguise sequences, I found it unnerving that I accepted her as a (fake) ten-year-old while still finding her very sexy! Miss Thomas's bustline was minimal, yet there's one good sight gag involving her bust when she's supposedly a 10-year-old. Dorcas Matthews gives an excellent performance in a role that's meant to be unsympathetic, yet in which I found her likable. As the faux earl, JB Sherry seems a bit too old for Olive Thomas, but plenty of other movies have featured romantic couples with similar age discrepancies. Since this is a silent film, it entirely evades the question of whether or not the fake earl speaks with an English accent.

The film's exterior scenes are attractive, though poorly photographed, and the camera set-ups are less imaginative than they might be. My single biggest complaint about this movie is that some of the intertitles are too busy and elaborate. (Since these are clearly replacements for the originals, perhaps the original release print's titles were simpler and more effective.) But the film is funny, and it serves as an excellent vehicle for Olive Thomas's beauty and acting skills. I'll rate 'Madcap Madge' 9 out of 10.


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