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Madcap Mabel (2010)

 -  Short | Drama  -  2 February 2010 (USA)
8.6
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 17 users  
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The life of silent screen star Mabel Normand is seen through the repentant eyes of a Reporter Charlie Craig, whose scandalous stories of Mabel's private life helped contribute to her career's downfall.

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Title: Madcap Mabel (2010)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Rudy Cecera ...
Charlie Craig
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Edna Purviance
Ron Nummi ...
Mack Sennett
...
Hamilton Perry
Brian Linden ...
...
Adela Rogers St. Johns
Elizabeth C. Taylor ...
Julia Benson
Molly Maguire ...
Mae Bush
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Storyline

The life of silent screen star Mabel Normand (Penelope Lagos) is seen through the repentant eyes of a Reporter Charlie Craig (Rudy Cecera), whose scandalous stories of Mabel's private life helped contribute to her career's downfall. Thanks to his articles, Mabel...once considered the "Queen of Comedy" who made history by being Hollywood's first female Producer, Director and Stunt Woman...is now considered Hollywood's First Party Girl. Her health soon takes a similar downward spiral and as she lies near death, Charlie finally gets a conscience and embarks on a quest to report all the positive aspects of her life. Through the stories of her friends and associates, Charlie's journey not only enlightens him as to Mabel's accomplishments but gives him hope that he'll vindicate her to the public and earn her forgiveness before it's too late. Written by Anonymous

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Hollywood's First Party Girl

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Short | Drama

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2 February 2010 (USA)  »

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$25,000 (estimated)
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Official Selection: Yperia Film Festival, Clearwater Film Festival 2010, and New Jersey International Film Festival. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Madcap Mabel is Marvelously Magnificent
7 December 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

While attending the Clearwater Film Festival in Florida I saw sun, beautiful woman on the beach and Madcap Mabel and I'm happy to say ALL three pleased me. Let me first say that I am a huge fan of silent cinema and classic comedy so am very familiar with the people and era portrayed in this film. To my knowledge, it is the first ever movie about the underrated talents of the original Queen of Comedy…Mabel Normand…so the fact that someone finally attempted to tell her story at all is worth the price of admission.

The clever plot, (which I'm copying from the film's program) shows the life and career of silent screen star Mabel Normand (Penelope Lagos) through the eyes of Reporter Charlie Craig (Rudy Cecera, who is also the film's writer/producer), whose scandalous stories of Mabel's private life helped contribute to her career's downfall. Thanks to his articles, Mabel…once considered the "Queen of Comedy" who made history by being Hollywood's first female Producer, Director and Stunt Woman…is now considered Hollywood's First Party Girl. Her health soon takes a similar downward spiral and as she nears death, Charlie finally gets a conscious and embarks on a quest to report all the positive aspects of her life. Through the stories of her friends and associates, including Mack Sennett (Ron Nummi), Edna Purviance (Katie Maguire) and Julia Benson (Elizabeth C. Taylor), Charlie's journey not only enlightens him as to Mabel's accomplishments, but gives him hope that he'll vindicate her to the public and earn her forgiveness before it's too late.

The hardest part of any film, especially a period piece is re-creating the era and as this one is the roaring twenties, the stakes were high (just ask the producers of "Boardwalk Empire"). Thankfully Madcap Mabel delivers as its costumes, props, vintage cars and even such minor detail as jewelry and cigarettes helped bring across a decade and location far from 2010 Florida (and I may add on a budget probably 1/10th that of the craft service table on the aforementioned HBO drama).

The screenplay has the right balance of facts and fiction to help bring across a story that could have actually happened. Despite being short, Normand's life was very full and complex including larger than life characters and several Hollywood scandals that even by today's standards would make Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen's lives seem tame. However Cecera's script is quite respectfully and through the use of flashbacks and foreshadowing we see three hours of entertainment in just over thirty minutes. Special credit should be given to director Dena Schumacher for creating a unique style without falling into the clichés used in similar genres and eras. One wonders if she was influenced and inspired by the subject of the film who helped open doors to all female directors.

On par with the film's production design and script is its casting. For starters, credit should be given to all the actors for not only looking their parts, but learning and delivering the slang dialogue from the time without it sounding fake or forced. What's particularly interesting about the performances is despite the fact that most of them are based on actual people, which limits the possibilities of any thespian, the players really make them their own. Cecera's reporter seems like a reporter, complete with determination and somewhat slimy behavior which of course helps his repentance seem genuine. Nummi's Sennett is fueled with the right amount of show business ego and remorse and Brian Linden's performance as the ill fated William Desmond Taylor combines an equal blend of British aristocracy and mystery. Finally, the role of Mabel Normand, which considering all its twists, turns and emotions is portrayed beautifully by Penelope Lagos.

Bottom line, this short film made on a small budget is a pleasant surprise and of course a keeper. Its only flaw is that it's not long enough but I understand from the press given at the festival that the producer is looking to turn it into a feature. If that ever happens…I'll be first in line.


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