Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914 film)
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|Tillie's Punctured Romance|
Re-release poster with different billing
|Directed by||Mack Sennett|
|Produced by||Mack Sennett|
|Written by||Hampton Del Ruth
|Based on||Tillie's Nightmare
by A. Baldwin Sloane and Edgar Smith
The Keystone Cops
Charley Chase (uncredited)
|Cinematography||Hans F. Koenekamp (uncredited)
Frank D. Williams (uncredited)
|Distributed by||Mutual Film|
82 mins. (2003 restoration)
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.
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.
- Marie Dressler ... Tillie Banks, Country Girl
- Mabel Normand .. Mabel, Charlie's Girl Friend
- Charles Chaplin ... Charlie, City Slicker
- Mack Swain ... John Banks, Tillie's Father
- Charles Bennett ... Uncle Banks, Tillie's millionaire uncle
- Chester Conklin ... Mr. Whoozis
- Phyllis Allen ... Prison Matron/Restaurant patron (uncredited)
- Billie Bennett ... Maid/Party Guest (uncredited)
- Joe Bordeaux ... Policeman (uncredited)
- Glen Cavender ... First Pianist in Restaurant (uncredited)
- Charley Chase ... Detective in Movie Theatre (uncredited)
- Dixie Chene ... Guest (uncredited)
- Nick Cogley ... Keystone Cop Desk Sergeant (uncredited)
- Alice Davenport ... Guest (uncredited)
- Minta Durfee ... Crook's Girlfriend in "A Thief's Fate" (uncredited)
- Ted Edwards ... Waiter (uncredited)
- Billy Gilbert ... Policeman (uncredited)
- Gordon Griffith ... Newsboy (uncredited)
- William Hauber ... Servant/Cop (uncredited)
- Fred Hibbard ... Servant (uncredited)
- Alice Howell ...Guest (uncredited)
- Edgar Kennedy ... Restaurant Owner/Butler (uncredited)
- Grover Ligon ... Keystone Cop (uncredited)
- Wallace MacDonald ... Keystone Cop (uncredited)
- Hank Mann ... Keystone Cop (uncredited)
- Gene Marsh ... Maid/Waitress (uncredited)
- Harry McCoy ... Second Pianist in Restaurant/Pianist in Theatre/Servant
- Gordon Griffith ... Kid (uncredited)
- Charles Murray ... Detective in 'A Thief's Fate' (uncredited)
- Frank Opperman ... Rev. D. Simpson (uncredited)
- Fritz Schade ... Waiter/Diner (uncredited)
- Al St. John ... Keystone Cop (uncredited)
- Slim Summerville ... Keystone Cop (uncredited)
- A. Edward Sutherland ... Keystone Cop (uncredited)
- Morgan Wallace ... Thief in the Movie within the Movie (uncredited)
The film was based on the Broadway play Tillie's Nightmare, which Dressler had great success in, on Broadway, and on tour in the United States, from 1910 to 1912. Dressler would revive the play with her own touring company.
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.
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.
Dressler appeared as Tillie in three more movies, Tillie's Tomato Surprise (1915), Tillie Wakes Up (1917) and The Scrub Lady (1917) aka Tillie the Scrub Lady. In Tillie Wakes Up the Tillie character has a different last name, which could be explained by the fact that her character is married.
The 1928 film
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, however.
Marie Dressler's unique career arc completely stalled in the late 1920s to the point that she found herself broke and unable to find acting work, supporting herself as a maid, but she came back stronger than ever between 1930 and 1933 due to the intervention of screenwriter Frances Marion, 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 extremely successful 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.
- Lee, Betty (1997). Marie Dressler: the unlikeliest star. University of Kentucky Press. ISBN 0-8131-2036-5.
- Lee 1997, p. 105.
- Lee 1997, pp. 77-85.
- "Empire". Reading Eagle. March 21, 1915. p. 12.
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