“88 Days” Shines a light on Mark Twain in the Motherlode

Mark Twain movie: 88 Days

Many of our visitors come to Calaveras to experience a piece of the past – we’re awash in the history of the gold rush and the characters of that era – mixed into these are the stories of Mark Twain and his tale The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.  As generations have passed, details become foggier about where that story originated, who exactly Mark Twain was and what he was doing here in the foothills.  Every legend has its origin story and the filmmakers behind 88 Days in the Motherlode wanted to get it right.

Make plans to attend the premier of the film February 21 and you’ll get the chance to learn how a struggling newspaperman named Samuel Clemens ran from his troubles in San Francisco and later became the immortal Mark Twain of American literature.

John C. Brown

John C. Brown

Film producer John C. Brown met Jim Fletcher through a mutual friend who suggested Brown go see Fletcher’s presentation “88 Days” at Camps Restaurant at Greenhorn Creek.  Fletcher, a historical story teller had formed a partnership with Camps’ Sherri Smith, who was also passionate about the story of Clemens’ legacy in Calaveras County and wanted to create an experience that visitors could connect with and help preserve the lore of Mark Twain.  Fletcher figured the Twain story had already been well told, but then discovered the books of George Williams III, who covered Twain’s time in the West in detail like Fletcher hadn’t seen before.  He also found the writings of a contemporary of Twain’s who was with him during the 88 days Twain spent in the area.   After about eight months of digging into historical references, piecing stories together, Fletcher constructed the narrative “88 Days”  which he’s been offering every Wednesday in the Mark Twain library at Camps.

The film covers the unlikely success of the story of the Calaveras Jumping Frog from the short story Twain sent to a friend, initially rejected for publication, then picked up by newspapers and magazines around the country, intrigued by a tale from the mythological gold towns of the west.   It would put Twain into national recognition and Calaveras on the map.   Here’s an excerpt from the film: “Days after his 29th birthday at the end of November in 1864, Samuel Clemens was broke and in debt. He posted a $500 bail bond for a friend with money he didn’t have. The friend jumped bail and Clemens had to get out of San Francisco…”   Learn the rest at the film’s premier on February 21 at the Bret Hart Theater in Angels Camp!

Immediately following the film there will be a Champagne and dessert reception at Camps Restaurant with the producers and cast.  Tickets are available for both reception and showing or for film showing only.

You can see an interview with filmmaker John C Brown of This n That Films and storyteller Jim Fletcher on the Tourism Matters local television program.


Film Premier of 88 Days in the Motherlode – Mark Twain Finds His Voice
February 21, 6:30pm Doors Open;  7:30pm Showtime
Bret Harte Theater
323 South Main Street, Angels Camp, CA 95222
Film and Reception:  $30
Film Showing Only:  $20
Purchase tickets and DVDs here


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