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Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy  |  21 December 1914 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 2,433 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 15 critic

Charlie talks wealthy farmer's daughter Tillie into eloping with him (and taking her father's money). In the city Tillie gets drunk and lands in jail while Charlie runs off with her money ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Mabel
Mack Swain ...
Charles Bennett ...
Douglas Banks - Tillie's Millionaire Uncle / 1st Restaurant Proprietor
...
Mr. Whoozis / Singing Waiter
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Storyline

Charlie talks wealthy farmer's daughter Tillie into eloping with him (and taking her father's money). In the city Tillie gets drunk and lands in jail while Charlie runs off with her money and his old girlfriend Mabel. Later Charlie reads that Tillie (now working as a waitress) has inherited the estate of her multi-millionaire uncle. Charlie dumps Mabel and talks Tillie into moving into her uncle's villa, and Mabel arranges to become a housemaid there. The uncle (never really dead) returns and summons the police to have them all thrown out. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The WORLD'S OUTSTANDING COMEDIANS IN THE FUNNIEST COMEDY OF ALL TIME See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 December 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

For the Love of Tillie  »

Box Office

Budget:

$50,000 (estimated)

Gross:

ESP 1,199,448 (Spain)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2003 restoration)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Milton Berle claimed to have played the bit part of the newsboy who gets slapped in the face and kicked by Charles Chaplin. He later confronted Chaplin about having played the role, but Chaplin (nor anyone else, it seems) could not recall for certain whether or not it was indeed Berle. Most researchers believe the role to have been played by Gordon Griffith, Keystone's house child actor. However, there are still others who claim that the boy does not resemble Griffith, and could therefore possibly be Berle. There really is no definitive way of obtaining an answer unless some sort of original studio records turn up, so in the meantime this can be considered speculation at best. Berle would have been 6 years old at the time, Griffith would have been 7. The newsboy appears to be somewhat older, so most likely is neither of them. The TV series "Biography" showed a clip with Chaplin and a young boy claiming that the youngster is Berle in the segment "Milton Berle: Mr. Television." See more »

Goofs

When they are pulling Tillie out of the water with the rope, the rope in the close-ups is dragging directly over the edge of the wharf, but in the medium shots from another viewpoint, the rope is clearly being run through a block pulley system on a spar suspended over the water. See more »

Quotes

Title Card: Her hitherto untouched girlish heart throbs in answer to the call of love.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Funniest Man in the World (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

New Orleans Bump
(used as a music insert in later public domain sound copies)
Written and performed by Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A milestone for film comedy, but not a work for the ages
14 November 2001 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Tillie's Punctured Romance, produced and directed by Mack Sennett for his Keystone Studio in 1914, is a movie milestone. It's the first feature-length slapstick comedy (restored prints run 70 minutes or more), and boasts three top players in the lead roles: Charlie Chaplin, Marie Dressler, and Mabel Normand. Although it's remembered primarily as a Chaplin film he was still an up-and-coming young performer at the time, and made no contribution to the script or direction. This project was based on a stage success called "Tillie's Nightmare," which was known for Dressler's high-energy performance and her rendition of the mock tragic lament "Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl." Of course the hit song couldn't be used on the silent screen, but this adaptation offers lots of slapstick and a wild climax featuring a full scale chase, on land and sea, by the Keystone Cops. By Sennett standards this was obviously a major production, with scores of familiar players in supporting roles, extensive location shooting, and an elaborate set serving as Tillie's mansion for the grand finale.

Historic significance aside, however, Tillie's Punctured Romance is something of a letdown when viewed today. For starters, Marie Dressler was not entirely comfortable with the new medium, and simply repeated her stage performance for the cameras, gesticulating wildly, dancing drunkenly, and occasionally shouting her lines-- which, of course, we can't hear. (Her true movie stardom wouldn't come until the talkie era.) Dressler's bizarre antics are amusing to a point, but a little of this sort of thing goes a long way. Mabel Normand is cute in her stylish outfits, but her role gives her little comic business of her own to perform beyond reacting to the activities of her co-stars. And Chaplin, playing a cold-hearted villain who seduces, robs, and then abandons a homely farm girl, is about as far from the lovable Tramp as one could imagine. It's interesting to see Charlie in such an uncharacteristic guise, and it speaks well for his versatility, yet we wait in vain for those genuinely funny moments we find in his own films, even the early ones. He plays the scoundrel with relish, but the part could have been taken by any number of other comedians. Even so, in one late scene Chaplin managed to slip in a gag that suggests the Charlie we know: parading before servants in his new finery, he trips over a tiger rug, then 'punishes' the beast, lifting it by the tail and giving it a quick spank. That was practically the only laugh I found in Tillie's Punctured Romance. Otherwise, most of the humor comes from watching grotesquely-dressed people kick butts, fire pistols and fall off the pier into the ocean, all of which represents Sennett's taste in comedy, not Chaplin's.

'Tillie' is best appreciated by film scholars. It has its moments, but can't compare with Chaplin's own later features such as The Gold Rush and The Circus. Viewers who have never seen a classic silent comedy may get a distorted impression of what they were like from this one, in the same way that The Great Train Robbery of 1903 suggests that all silent drama was laughably primitive. Personally I find these very early movies fascinating, but they need to be seen in the larger context of their time; the silent cinema shouldn't be judged by its earliest products.

P.S. Autumn 2010: A newly restored version of Tillie's Punctured Romance has become available, one that is substantially longer than the various re-edited and truncated editions which have circulated for many years. Modern viewers can now get a better sense of what audiences of 1914 saw when the film was new. The restored 'Tillie' remains very much a vehicle for Marie Dressler, but it's gratifying to report that a fair amount of the "new" footage involves Mabel Normand. She has more to do during the party sequence at the end, disguised as a maid as she sips punch and spars with her employers and fellow servants. The flirtation sequence between Charlie and Marie at the beginning has been extended, and Dressler has more footage at the police station when she's jailed for drunkenness. The over all impact of 'Tillie' is essentially the same, but nevertheless it's good to see this historically significant film get the archival attention and respect it deserves.


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Not really much good, is it? rick_7
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