Category Archives: Silent

Madcap Ambrose (1916)

Keystone Film Company
Starring:
 Mack Swain, Polly Moran
Directed by: Fred Fishback

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: Ambrose (Mack Swain) is a strong but gentle giant who lives in a boarding house run by his mother (Mai Wells) and who attracts the admiration of the maid Rosie Bloom (Polly Moran).

Cat Burglar (Scene Stealer): While Ambrose is grabbing a bite to eat in the kitchen, something falls on his head and breaks. He looks up to see a tiny tabby kitten on a shelf above.

Madcap Ambrose - tabby kitten sitting on shelf

Madcap Ambrose - tabby kitten knocks something off shelf onto Ambrose Mack Swain head animated gif

Ambrose isn’t even mad. He takes down the kitten and cuddles with it.

Madcap Ambrose - Ambrose Mack Swain cuddling tiny tabby kitten

Ambrose then places the kitten in the dish which held mashed potatoes and the kitten settles right in (by means of reverse footage). Ambrose giggles like a child as he places the lid on top.

Madcap Ambrose - Ambrose Mack Swain placing tiny tabby kitten into dish

Madcap Ambrose - tiny tabby kitten sitting in dish

Madcap Ambrose - tiny tabby kitten lying in dish

Madcap Ambrose - tabby kitten being placed inside dish by Ambrose Mack Swain animated gif

Madcap Ambrose - Ambrose Mack Swain placing lid on dish containing tiny tabby kitten

Rosie then takes the dish into the dining room where the boarders are surprised to see the kitten emerging!

Madcap Ambrose - tiny tabby kitten poking nose out of covered dish

Madcap Ambrose - tiny tabby kitten sitting up in dish

Madcap Ambrose - table of boarders surprised at tiny tabby kitten

Madcap Ambrose - table of boarders surprised at tiny tabby kitten emerging from covered dish animated gif

Madcap Ambrose - tiny tabby kitten sitting in dish

Madcap Ambrose - tiny tabby kitten eating from plate on table where boarders are surprised

Rosie takes the kitten to a table nearby and serenades to the tiny animal while playing an accordian.

Madcap Ambrose - Rosie Polly Moran playing accordian and serenading tiny tabby kitten

Madcap Ambrose - tiny tabby kitten sitting on table

Madcap Ambrose - Rosie Polly Moran petting tiny tabby kitten

Madcap Ambrose - Rosie Polly Moran playing accordian and serenading tiny tabby kitten animated gif

The kitten remains on the table as a fight breaks out over at the dining room.

Madcap Ambrose - Rosie Polly Moran looks shocked with tiny tabby kitten on table behind

One of the boarders stumbles over to Rosie and takes it hat off, accidentally placing it over the kitten on the table. When he picks up his hat, he picks up the kitten as well and places it on his head. He is surprised when the kitten starts to slip down his neck. Rosie rescues the kitten from the precarious predicament.

Madcap Ambrose - man taking off hat with Rosie Polly Moran and tiny tabby kitten on table behind

Madcap Ambrose - man wearing hat with tiny tabby cat tail sticking out the back surprising Rosie Polly Moran

Madcap Ambrose - Rosie Polly Moran holding tiny tabby kitten next to man with hat

Madcap Ambrose - man wearing hat with tiny tabby cat tail sticking out the back surprising Rosie Polly Moran animated gif

The kitten then remains on the table as Rosie receives some good news and everyone gathers around.

Madcap Ambrose - Rosie Polly Moran opens letter with tiny tabby kitten on table behind

Madcap Ambrose - boarders gathered around Rosie Polly with tiny tabby kitten on table behind

The Mack Sennett Studios appreciated the value of including animals in their films, having launched the career of one of the first Cinema Cats, Pepper, some years before. The name of this tiny tabby actor is unknown to us at this time.

Final Mewsings: Kittens prefer warm dishes to accordian music.


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Sick Kitten (1903)

G.A.S. Films
Directed by: George Albert Smith

Synopsis: A remake of George Albert Smith’s earlier film The Little Doctor from 1901, this short shows a boy and girl playing doctor and nursemaid to a sick kitten, feeding it some medicine from a spoon as the Mama Cat waits by anxiously.

Cat Burglars (Scene Stealers): One of the earliest cat stars of the silver screen, the kitten featured in this short film is adorable beyond words. What is most notable about this experimental film was George Albert Smith’s use of close ups and editing, one of the earliest examples of a film being cut and close ups inserted to bring the action closer to the audience. He deserves to be applauded simply for giving us one of the most priceless kitty close-ups in film history. Mama Cat also turns in a nice performance as the concerned parent.

sick kitten

Final Mewsings: A close-up of a kitten is a cinematic breakthrough.


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