Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914 film)

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Tillie's Punctured Romance
Tille.jpg
Directed by Mack Sennett
Produced by Mack Sennett
Written by Hampton Del Ruth
Craig Hutchinson
Mack Sennett
Based on Tillie's Nightmare 
by A. Baldwin Sloane and Edgar Smith
Starring Marie Dressler
Mabel Normand
Charles Chaplin
Mack Swain
Charles Bennett
Chester Conklin
The Keystone Cops
Charley Chase (uncredited)
Cinematography Hans F. Koenekamp (uncredited)
Frank D. Williams (uncredited)
Production
company
Distributed by Mutual Film
Release dates
  • November 14, 1914 (1914-11-14) (United States)
Running time 74 mins.
82 mins. (2003 restoration)
Country United States
Language Silent
English intertitles

Tillie's Punctured Romance is a 1914 American silent comedy film directed by Mack Sennett and starring Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand, Charlie Chaplin, and the Keystone Cops. The picture was the first feature-length film produced by the Keystone Film Company and the only such film to feature Chaplin.

The film is based on Dressler's stage play Tillie's Nightmare by A. Baldwin Sloane and Edgar Smith. Tillie's Punctured Romance is notable as being the last Chaplin film which he neither wrote nor directed himself as well as being the first ever feature length comedy. Chaplin plays an utterly different role from his recently created Tramp character in this movie.

Plot[edit]

Tillie's Punctured Romance

Chaplin portrays a womanizing city man who meets Tillie (Dressler) in the country after a fight with his girlfriend (Normand). When he sees that Tillie's father has a very large bankroll for his workers, he persuades her to elope with him. In the city, he meets the woman he was seeing already, and tries to work around the complication to steal Tillie's money. He gets Tillie drunk in a restaurant and asks her to let him hold the pocketbook. Since she is drunk, she agrees, and he escapes with his old girlfriend and the money.

Later that day, they see a picture show entitled "A Thief's Fate," which illustrates their thievery in the form of a morality play. They both feel guilty and leave the theatre. While sitting on a park bench, a paperboy asks him to buy a newspaper. He does so, and reads the story about Tillie's Uncle Banks, a millionaire who died while on a mountain-climbing expedition. Tillie is named sole heir and inherits three million dollars. The man leaves his girlfriend on the park bench and runs to the restaurant, where Tillie is now forced to work to support herself, as she is too embarrassed to go home. He begs her to take him back and marries her. Although she is skeptical at first, she believes that he truly loves her. They move into the uncle's mansion and throw a big party, which ends horribly when Tillie finds her husband with his old girlfriend, smuggled into the house and working as one of their maids.

The uncle is found on a mountaintop, and didn't die after all. He goes back to his mansion, which was in disarray after Tillie instigated a gunfight (a direct result of the husband smuggling the old girlfriend into the house) which, luckily, didn't harm anyone. Uncle Banks insists that Tillie be arrested for the damage she has caused to his house. The three run from the cops all the way to a dock, where a car "bumps" Tillie into the water. She flails about, hoping to be rescued. She is eventually pulled to safety, and both Tillie and the man's girlfriend realize that they are too good for him. He leaves, and the two girls become friends.

Cast[edit]

Description of Charlie Chaplin's character
Description of Marie Dressler's character

Characteristics of the film[edit]

Scene from Tillie's Punctured Romance

The film was based on the Broadway play Tillie's Nightmare,[1] which Dressler had great success in, on Broadway, and on tour in the United States, from 1910 to 1912.[2]

Although he wears a mustache, Chaplin's characterization in this movie is distinctly different from that of his beloved "Little Tramp". Although it's usually assumed that his performance in this film predated his crafting of the Tramp persona, Chaplin had already appeared in more than 30 shorts as the Tramp by the time Tillie's Punctured Romance was released as the first full-length comedy feature on November 14, 1914.

The comedy in the film is largely slapstick: people frequently kick each other or trip each other; four men unsuccessfully attempt to help Tillie up when she falls; Tillie, taken to the police station, has a police officer wave his finger in her face, and she bites it.

Milton Berle always claimed that he played the five-year-old paperboy in the film, but the role was actually portrayed by Gordon Griffith.

Tillie's unique career[edit]

Dressler appeared as Tillie in three more movies, Tillie's Tomato Surprise (1915), Tillie Wakes Up (1917) and The Scrub Lady aka Tillie the Scrub Lady. In Tillie Wakes Up the Tillie character has a different last name. Dressler's career completely stalled in the late 1920s to the point that she found herself flat broke and unable to find work, but she came back stronger than ever between 1930 and 1933, beating out Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford by topping the exhibitors' poll as the screen's most popular actress three years in a row and becoming MGM's biggest star in the wake of two smash-hit films with fellow character actor Wallace Beery: Min and Bill (1930), for which she won an Academy Award, and Tugboat Annie (1933). She died of cancer the following year.

The 1928 film[edit]

Another comedy called Tillie's Punctured Romance was released in 1928 starring W. C. Fields as a circus ringmaster. Although often erroneously cited as a remake, the later movie actually bears no resemblance to the 1914 film aside from sharing the same title. Chester Conklin and Mack Swain appear in both movies.

International Versions[edit]

  • Europe 1916
  • Europe 1917
  • Europe 1920
  • Europe 1924

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Lee, Betty (1997). Marie Dressler: the unlikeliest star. University of Kentucky Press. ISBN 0-8131-2036-5. 
  1. ^ Lee 1997, p. 105.
  2. ^ Lee 1997, pp. 77-85.

External links[edit]