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88 Days in the Mother Lode: Mark Twain Finds His Voice (2015)

150 years ago, Samuel Clemens spent 88 days in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties in the winter of 1864/65. While taking refuge from the rain in Angels Camp, he was told the story of a jumping frog. That frog made him famous as Mark Twain.

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Credited cast:
Drew Boudreau ... Rabble Rouser
James Caron ... Himself
Vic Fischer ... Himself
James Fletcher ... Himself
Michelle Gordon ... Herself
Rob Gordon ... Dick Stoker
Ralph Krummins ... Jim Gillis
Peter Leibold IV ... Billy Gillis
Thomas F. Maguire ... Samuel Clemens (voice)
Matt Sweetland ... Mark Twain


150 years ago, 29 year old Samuel Clemens had to hide out from the San Francisco police for a few months. Virtually broke, traveled to Jackass Hill in the Gold Country where he spent the next 88 days doing a little mining, a little drinking, a little story telling and a little recuperating. He jotted a little story he heard tell about a jumping frog. Upon his return to San Francisco in February 1865 he developed that story and sent it East to be published. The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County launched the career of Clemens' alter ego Mark Twain and he went on to become America's most beloved author and humorist. In this film, we follow Clemens to the West from Missouri to Nevada, San Francisco and the Mother Lode. Re-enactments, interviews with Twain scholars and Twain's own words tell the story of what happened. Written by Bert Simonis

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Release Date:

21 February 2015 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$21,000 (estimated)
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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


When Samuel Clemens was in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties in the winter of 1864-65, it was a particularly wet winter with constant rains that kept him and the miners confined to their cabin or the local hotel in Angels Camp. When filming started in the winter of 2013-14, California was in a major drought. Director John C. Brown ran out to Jackass Hill or Angels Camp with his camera equipment during every rain storm so that there would be enough rain scenes for the film. See more »


The actor playing the young Samuel Clemens, Matt Sweetland, was born deaf and wears hearing aids in both ears. The director always reminded him to take the aids out and put them in his vest pocket while shooting a scene. There is one scene where Matt and the director forgot to remove his hearing aids. See more »

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User Reviews

Great film, I learned so much.
3 February 2015 | by See all my reviews

Not only was I entertained by this film, I also found it educational. The producers have done a great of making Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)come to life through his own words. From letters home, stories published in newspapers and his books, Mark Twain's stay in California's Gold Country comes to life. Using actors to portray his everyday life in the cabin and especially in the hotel during a non- ending rain storm gives a new dimension to this film. I also appreciate the beautiful scenery and it was great to learn that all the scenes were filmed at the actual locations that they took place. It makes we want to travel to Jackass Hill and Angels Camp! Interviews with experts in the Mark Twain field of study round out the film. Entertaining and educational, highly recommended.

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