When David's father dies, his mother remarries. His new stepfather Murdstone has a mean and cruel view on how to raise a child. When David's mother dies from grief, Murdstone sends David to... See full summary »
Edna May Oliver
Rightly suspected of illicit relations with the Masked Bandit, Flower Belle Lee is run out of Little Bend. On the train she meets con man Cuthbert J. Twillie and pretends to marry him for "... See full summary »
Judge Foster throws his daughter out because she married a circus man. She leaves her baby girl with Prof. McGargle before she dies. Years later Sally is a dancer with whom Peyton, a son of... See full summary »
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Sheriff Ben Holden is in love with hotel owner Madge Malarkey when down-and-out carnival man Gabby Gilfoil shows up hoping to take her for some money. Gilfoil is mistaken for the wanted man... See full summary »
Tillie and Augustus Winterbottom are thought to be missionaries when they arrive to find Phineas Pratt trying cheat the Sheridans out of her father's inheritance, including a ferry ... See full summary »
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Gregory La Cava
Charles 'Buddy' Rogers
The ring master is plotting to get the circus owner done away with in a lion cage so he can take over. World War I intervenes and eventually aids the Allied cause by joining the German army. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
"Tillie's Punctured Romance" (1928), starring W.C. Fields, is supposedly a remake of the landmark 1914 comedy film of the same title starring Marie Dressler and Charlie Chaplin (which was itself based on a stage comedy starring Dressler) ... and Keystone stalwart comedian Mack Swain even repeats his role as Tillie's father from the original film. But, except for the title, the two movies have almost nothing in common ... and the Fields version, alas, isn't even very funny.
The opening shot in this movie is the familiar Paramount logo, so I expected great things. Paramount were Fields's regular studio at this point, and Paramount always surpassed all the other Hollywood studios in producing hilarious, innovative comedies. But then I saw the rest of the credits, and my heart sank. "Tillie's Punctured Romance" was released by Paramount (hence the logo), but it wasn't a Paramount production. This movie was actually produced by Al Christie of Educational Pictures, a cheapjack studio which specialised in churning out unfunny comedies made on minuscule budgets. The low budget (and bad scripting and direction) are obvious all through this film.
In the Keystone original, Tillie (played by Dressler) is an ugly-duckling heiress who attracts the attention of confidence trickster Chaplin. Tillie thinks that Charlie genuinely loves her, but of course he's really after Tillie's money while secretly wooing pretty chambermaid Mabel Normand. This plot was funny and believable. The plot of the "remake" makes no sense, and isn't funny. Louise Fazenda plays plain-Jane farmgirl Tillie, who runs away with a travelling circus and is promptly seduced by ringmaster Fields. Since Tilllie isn't good-looking and has no money, it's not clear why Fields's character is so interested in her.
Pint-sized comedian Chester Conklin was a long-time second banana at Keystone, usually playing an annoying little rival to Swain or Chaplin or some other important comedian. He played secondary roles in many Keystone comedies (including the original "Tillie"), but he has a much larger role than usual here, as the owner of the circus and Fields's rival for Fazenda's affections. Unfortunately, Conklin proves here that he's no lead comedian. (He would go back to supporting roles in Chaplin's "Modern Times" and some Preston Sturges movies.)
This film's sequences in the lion cage are embarrassing; the crude editing and camera angles make it very obvious that the actors are never onscreen with a live lion.
In the last two reels of the movie, for want of anything better to do, Fields and Conklin run off to the trenches of World War One, with Fazenda joining them as an ambulance driver. "The Big Parade" (a war drama) was a solid money-maker of the late silent era; for several years thereafter, many comedy films exploited World War One themes in an attempt to ride the coat-tails of that movie's box-office success.
"Tillie's Punctured Romance" manages to rip off its Keystone predecessor AND "The Big Parade".
Fields's character in this film is totally unsympathetic and villainous, without any of the redeeming traits which he showed in his more popular films. I'm very much a W.C. Fields fan (and I like Conklin and Fazenda too), so it pains me to say that none of them come off well in this unnecessary and unfunny film. Don't confuse "Tillie's Punctured Romance" with "Tillie and Gus", a later (and much better) W.C. Fields film which is quite unrelated to this one. Stick to the original "Tillie's Punctured Romance"
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