Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
37 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
A milestone for film comedy, but not a work for the ages
wmorrow5914 November 2001
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.
35 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Worth Seeing For the Cast, Not For the Comedy
Snow Leopard19 March 2002
The comedy in "Tillie's Punctured Romance" is admittedly mediocre, but many who love classic cinema will still find this feature worth seeing once just for its cast. Besides Mabel Normand, it has Charlie Chaplin and Marie Dressler in some of their earliest film roles, plus Edgar Kennedy and Mack Swain in smaller roles, and of course the Keystone Cops. Most of these wonderful performers are not shown to their best advantage here, but it is still a rare chance to see them all together.

The film in itself is only fair. The story-line had possibilities, but Mack Sennett's disjointed, knockabout style just doesn't work very well in a full-length feature. Most of the material is quite predictable after a while, and except for the "Cops", who have a few funny moments, the cast members do not have roles that give them a chance to do what they do best. There are a handful of decent gags amongst the routine physical humor, and a film-within-a-film sequence that comes off all right, but in general there just was not enough worthwhile material to fill up a running time of this length. With this cast, though, it might have made a very good two- or three-reeler.
12 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A good look at Chaplin, among other things.
Polaris_DiB7 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a guy who loves his Charlie Chaplin flicks, but this is the first one I've seen without him directing it. Interestingly enough, while the film loses that sense of tragic artistry Chaplin had in his directorial projects, this film helps to illustrate another side of Chaplin that could largely be unnoticed without a basis of comparison: the works of Chaplin are pretty egocentric and usually involve Chaplin in most, if not all, of the action.

Here, however, is a film that involves three comic characters. Tillie is a wonderfully robust woman who, if she was around today, would describe herself as "comfortable with her body." One day a Stranger walks by (Chaplin) and, due to a little bad timing, gets hit in the face by a brick Tillie threw for her dog to fetch (Why exactly a dog would be playing fetch with a brick is probably one of those things to be ignored). As Tillie helps the Stanger up and tries to be hospitable to him, she, her father, and the Stranger begin a series of ego conflicts with largely humorous results.

However, the Stranger has his eyes on Tillie's father's money, so he uses Tillie to get the money by promising "love and the great city" to her. She robs her father, they elope, and they find themselves in the not-so-great city--where, also, Mabel, the girl the Stranger left behind, is waiting.

The story traces Tillie, Mabel, and the Stranger through trial and error (mostly error), as they all try to find love, riches, and happiness, with pretty amusing results.

Charlie Chaplin is a master of physical comedy, but in this movie he's no match for Marie Dressler, who can throw her body around with the same sort of fluid klutziness Chaplin can, only with an extra hundred pounds or so packed on. Mabel is a wonderful sort of anchor to them, as her battle with her desires versus integrity often keeps Mabel and the Stranger from tripping their way off into space.

The film also includes a rather surreal moment where Mabel and the Stranger watch a movie that is highly reflective of the situation they're in, and as a result, causes them to look further into themselves than they want to go. That scene is filmed nearly perfectly, almost shockingly psychological considering most of the rather light comedy the rest of the movie contains.

This movie isn't really what I'd call a classic, but it's certainly worth the watch for anybody interested. Since silent film isn't generally recognized by most modern audiences, it probably isn't something anyone but an enthusiast might watch. Still, I'm sure it has enough enjoyable moments for everyone who takes the time to sit down and watch it.

9 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dressler! Chaplin! Normand!
drednm8 April 2005
What a treat that this 1914 feature-length comedy still exists. Historically important as the first feature comedy, it also boasts three great stars: Charlie Chaplin, Marie Dressler, and Mabel Normand. Directed by legendary Mack Sennett, this broad comedy was adapted from Dressler's stage hit. It's rough, with missing pieces, but enough exists to showcase the comedy talents of this trio of stars. The story is trite but Dressler and Chaplin are so funny, you forget the plot and laugh along with the mugging and pratfalls. So far as I know, Dressler and Chaplin never worked together again. What a shame. Dressler adapted to talkies (winning an Oscar for Min and Bill) so much better than Chaplin did. Normand died before the advent of talkies. Anyway, certainly worth a look. Co-stars Chester Conklin, Charles Murray, Minta Durfee, Edgar Kennedy, Charley Chase, Mack Swain, and possibly Milton Berle as the newsboy. Berle always said he played it. Edna Purviance may be the leading lady in the film Chaplin and Normand go to see. I love this film.
21 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Chaplin's early effort
Petri Pelkonen22 February 2006
Charles Chaplin plays The City Guy, who sees his opportunity to get rich when he meets a big-sized girl named Tillie Banks (Marie Dressler).He wants to elope with her so he could have the fortune of her father (Mack Swain).Mabel Normand plays The Other Girl, beautiful and villainous.Mack Sennett's Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914) was the first feature-length comedy.It was made in the time when Chaplin was just a new-comer in the field of comedy and was only looking for his style.Nevertheless this is a good comedy, even though it's not near Chaplin's best stuff.Other actors aren't left in Chaplin's shadow.That goes especially for Marie Dressler.She's truly funny in this movie.This movie has some great moments.For the silent movie fans this is a little treat.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An Antique Gem With Many Facets
dzkaplan19 January 2003
I just watched this film for my first time on Turner Classic Movies. Unfortunately, the version I saw was several minutes shorter than 73 min.--so I'm not sure what I missed. Hopefully there was a scene near the finish so the ending wouldn't have seemed so abrupt. I rated the film an '8' anyway. In a showcase for vintage comedic movie acting, director Mack Sennett lets two comedic giants shine. Marie Dressler is tubs of fun in the title role. Strong as Popeye yet more clumsy than Kramer, Dressler is a walking disaster who, thankfully, has Lady Luck to guide her. Her performance seemed a bit Vaudeville at first but she quickly grew on me. By the time she danced drunk I was completely won over. An underdog with a heart of gold who can take care of herself, thank you. Mabel Normand also registers strongly in her nameless role. Though at 20 she was the youngest of the star trio, Normand was the film veteran of the group. It shows in her ease and manner and still modern screen personna. She knew a little could go a long way. Chaplin seemed miscast. I kept thinking a more handsome cad (Wallace Reid?) could have been funnier. Still... He's Chaplin.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Voila! Great Marie
Taz Delaney27 November 2003
Great silent Mack Sennett slapstick with Charlie Chaplin and Marie Dressler. Sennett is Sennett; it is great Chaplin, though he was dissatisfied (probably because he wasn't directing it, too); but the thing that really makes this movie great is Marie Dressler. The way she carries her considerable girth is a major element in the comedy and her big face and huge eyes are strictly for howling. Marie was born in 1868 and died in 1932, half in each century, a life in theatre and film. Such a shame she didn't have more time to live in the talkie era: I think she would have become one of the huge names of film. There's only one Marie Dressler. She shines in 'Dinner At Eight' and 'Min And Bill' both of which, among others, included Wallace Beery, a great foil for her talents.
12 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
historically important and funny at times
MartinHafer29 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a full-length film at the beginning of Chaplin's career. While he later went on to make several amazing full-length comedies starting in the 20s, this is the first. And, because it was made the same year he debuted in films, his Little Tramp character was still being developed and was not seen in many of these early films, or if he did appear, he was quite different from the Chaplin we later became familiar with in the 20s.

In this case, Chaplin plays a con man who bears no similarity to the sweet tramp. He strolls into town after vacating the big city because he's overstayed his welcome. In the country he meets Tillie and persuades her to run away with him. He has no intention of marrying her but wants her to bring her daddy's savings so he can steal it and leave her high and dry.

Well, he does just that--only to find out later she just inherited $3,000,000. So, he returns to her and persuades her that he REALLY does want to marry her and so they wed (apparently Tillie is an idiot to believe such hooey). A little later, she finds out her rich uncle who died ISN'T really dead, and so once again, Chaplin dumps her--only to be soundly beaten up by her at the end.

This movie is very fast-paced, full of non-stop slapstick and has a very scant amount of plot. At times, it's funny. At many other times, it just looks like a run of the mill slapstick movie stretched out to feature length. The bottom line is ANY comedian of the age could have played Chaplin's role--it had no finesse and the movie itself lacked the later Chaplin magic.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
uneven but entertaining
pocca24 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A series of amusing scenarios that as a feature film don't quite gel: as others have commented here, seeing the same slapstick gags over and over again can get monotonous. Still, some of the set pieces are quite amusing, the one featuring Marie Dressler (who looks like a cross between Mrs. Potato Head and Fatty Arbuckle in drag here) getting tipsy on a sip of alcohol, the movie within a movie and the spoof of exhibition dancing being among the highlights. Although modern viewers may come to this film expecting it to be a Chaplin feature (who atypically plays a villain), it is in fact very much Marie Dressler's film—most of the film's comedy comes from watching the sometimes aggravating but essentially innocent Tillie flailing about like a giant, goggle eyed baby as she tries to cope with her unscrupulous gigolo lover and life in the big city. The film also does a sly take on that hoary leftover Victorian cliché, the distant wealthy uncle who conveniently dies: here the uncle rather inconveniently comes back to life ("not so darn dead after all" as a title card dryly observes). The film also features Mabel Normand as Chaplins' moll girlfriend (her petite beauty makes her a good foil for Dressler), and the Keystone Cops.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Some Silents Don't Age Well
GManfred4 August 2008
Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Marie Dressler and Director Mack Sennett on the same set should be hard to beat, right? Well, yes and no. I would have to agree with the majority of writers that the film is important as the first feature length comedy, and for the exceptional talent associated with it. But the slapstick and sight gags become tiresome in a hurry - today's audiences are too sophisticated (or think they are) for pratfalls, a kick in the pants, etc., and so the film does not wear well.To really appreciate it we would have to have been in the audience when it was current. Time marches on, and some pictures get trampled in the march. I gave it a '6' solely on its historical value.

By the way, too many writers include a story synopsis with their comments - but why? If there's one in place, why repeat?
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Not as funny as Chaplin's later films but a good solid feature
bob the moo30 December 2002
A city con-man leaves for the country where he meets a young country girl. In order to get her father's money, he proposes to her and they run off to the city with the money. Once there he abandons her for his own love, Mabel and Tillie is locked up for vagrancy. However one all to her millionaire Uncle and she's free. The con-man is happy until he reads Tillie's Uncle has been killed in a climbing accident and that Tillie is set to inherit the lot. He goes back to her but things are never that simple in love and money.

Best known for being the first ever full length comedy feature made and also for setting Chaplin on his way to greater things, this is a well plotting amusing comedy. Based on a Broadway who the plot stands up well and uses some nice devices (like the movie within the movie) to tell the story. The comedy is less routines than little touches added to the narrative – only the climax with the keystone cops feels like a well worked routine.

This may be it's weakness to some who expect more physical comedy from Chaplin, but he still does plenty of that as well. He is good here and it's one of the more morally bankrupt characters that I've seen him play. Dressler is good as Tillie but she is so ugly for a female lead that I assumed I must have mixed her up with the other actress. But once over the superficial things she is very good and matches Chaplin for times.

The main weakness of the film was a fault of the copy. On top of the soundtrack was a voice over that talked you through the action as if I was too stupid to work it out for myself!
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Slapstick...nothing like it!
Danny Toth (Ozzdan85)17 November 2004
As the first feature-length comedy, "'Tillie" is full of humor, entertainment, and charm. Charlie Chaplin, who would later become one of the great film gen1uses of the 20th century, protrays the character of the city crook so well and crafty. As the film goes on, it just gets funnier and funnier. People fall, get smacked around, and dance wildly. Yes...I've noticed that the existing prints aren't the most crisp from these years, but "Tillie's Punctured Romance" shines from the days when talkies were unheard of. One of my personal favorite movies, and, in my opinion, Chaplin's most outstanding performance. Trust me, if you have an appreciation for the films of the silent era, you'll laugh every second at this lovable comedy. Remember...this is back in the day when stunt performers weren't used, to an extent at least, and the real actors put forth the effort and took the pain of falling, getting hit, and being thrown into the ocean...just for the sake of making people laugh.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Chaplin and Normand at the movies
James Cheney1 November 2009
Forget the Marie Dressler main plot, elephantine and lumbering as the star (on this occasion: she was great when movies finally allowed her to talk and properly preserve her theatrical identity). Throw out almost everything else, especially the usual Mack Sennett hash joint/beanery-with-continental-pretensions which holds the action and us captive for roughly half the running time, tricking the film out to feature length.

The claustrophobia and boredom these stage-bound scenes induce have the positive effect of making us fully appreciate everything that happens outdoors in lovely underdeveloped 1914 Southern California. The scenes with rascal Chaplin and his lovely accomplice Normand (a beautiful team) hiding out together from the rest of the movie in real locations provide delicious escape and a very different, carefree, style of acting and film-making, which can be reduced to the one wonderful scene (throw the rest away if only five minutes can be preserved) where Charlie and Mabel go to the movies only to find an on screen version of the very scam they've haplessly set into motion and have ducked into the dark to escape. It's valuable documentation of what movie-going looked like in 1914, fascinating in itself, but the comedy raises it higher. Mabel is the kind of audience member who emotes and comments as she watches. The fellow sitting next to her is the stern sort who gets annoyed and says "Shush!" As Chaplin and girlfriend watch further they realize they're seeing themselves, and Mabel can't help but notice and say it out loud (yet silently). As she does so, she and Chaplin, increasingly self-conscious about talking in the theater, notice that the shush-er beside them reveals a sheriff's star as he adjusts his waistcoat. Paranoia sets in and from this moment on klassic Keystone Kops seem to be lurking in the edges of everywhere they dream of transgressing. A lovely vignette and accompanying good bits and pieces.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Historic Film Doesn't Hold Up
CitizenCaine4 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Tillie's Punctured Romance is a historic film for several reasons. It was the first feature length comedy as well as Chaplin's first feature length comedy. It was Marie Dressler's film debut as well as the only film she made with Chaplin and the third lead in the film: Mabel Normand. However, the film does not hold up well over time. Mack Sennett directed and produced the film, so we know the comedy is going to be more of the same from Chaplin. There's brick-throwing when Chaplin first meets Marie Dressler and her father played by Chester Conklin. There is lots of kicking, slapping, people running around bumping into each other, and of course a Keystone cops madcap finish. The plot concerns Chaplin playing a cad who two-times both Mabel Normand and Marie Dressler while hoping to end up with a large chunk of change courtesy of Miss Dressler's rich uncle played by Charles Bennett. There are a few bits of familiar Chaplin like with the tiger rug in the mansion, but for the most part the film is beneath Chaplin's talent, and he would leave Keystone after just two more films. The film is based on the Broadway play Marie Dressler starred in as Tillie, but here in her debut, she seems to overact. Several supporting actors play several roles, and that aspect of the film makes it hard to follow in some scenes. In one scene, Chaplin loses his mustache and then it reappears again a short time later. The funniest scene in the film was Chaplin dancing a tango with the oafish Dressler. This was Chaplin's last film released by Keystone. ** of 4 stars.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
If you're looking for a great silent comedy, run, do not walk . . .
ready4fun0131 January 2007
. . . AS FAR AWAY from this movie as you can get! Yes, "Tillie's Punctured Romance" is today considered a classic, but mainly because it has the reputation of being the "first feature-length comedy," and because it is the only film in which the three leads (Normand, Dressler, Chaplin) appeared together, and because it contains one of the earliest "film-within-a-film" sequences. Other than that, it's pretty much useless, unless you want to study Marie's acting style, drool over the always-lovely Mabel, or watch Charlie play the opposite of his beloved "Little Tramp" character.

Don't get me wrong. I like slapstick, I love Chaplin, I think Marie Dressler was a fabulous actress, and you've already heard what I think about Mabel Normand. But not a one of the three is used to any great advantage in this movie--and even Swain, Bennett, and Conklin (all of whom deserve more credit for their work in early cinema than they normally get) are wasted here.

The trouble with this movie is not in the plot (hackneyed as it may seem to current audiences) nor with the actors (who did what they could with the script at hand). No, the trouble really lies with the writing and directing. I can't comment on the original play, having never read or seen it, but I do know that Mack Sennett knew what he was doing with short films--the deservedly classic status of his hundreds of early flicks attests to this. However, when you ask people to sit still and watch over an hour's worth of your movie, there should be something more to hold their attention than your having people fall down over and over and over again. Here's a math problem for someone with much more time on their hands than I have: count the people who fall down in this movie, and divide by the number of minutes the movie lasts, and I think you'll see what I mean.

Please, please, please--do yourself a favor, if you're at all interested in silent movies, or trying to find a way to get your friends to enjoy them with you. Treat yourself (and them) to "City Lights," "The General," "The Gold Rush," any of the one- or two-reelers by Sennett or Hal Roach. Or, for that matter, practically any other silent comedy. (Hey, even Mel Brooks's "Silent Movie" is better than this, although that's not saying much.) Put on some of your (or their) favorite music, if there's not a synchronized score (my copy of "Tillie" seems to have purloined Scott Joplin tracks from a noisy LP). But unless you're ready for over an hour of mostly meaningless pratfalls, don't subject yourself or your friends to this. It's wonderful that it still exists; film students can analyze it to their hearts content. Now go watch something good.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Thief's Fate
Cineanalyst2 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Tillie's Punctured Romance" was novel merely for being a feature-length comedy. Feature-length films were just beginning to become the established norm and comedies were one of the last to follow suit; not until a few years later would Chaplin and others secure the transition from shorts to features in the genre. Additionally, this picture features one of the many collaborations between two pioneering titans of screen comedy: Mack Sennett and Charlie Chaplin.

Yet, "Tillie's Punctured Romance" is low on entertainment. It's crude, cheap and outdated--and unusually static for a Sennett film. That surely has much to do with it being an adaptation of a play, and it being an unusual project for him. The movie finally picks up when the Keystone Kops enter the action, with the rapid editing and more frantic slapstick characteristic of Sennett, but that's only in the last few minutes. The crude and violent slapstick and grotesque burlesque throughout the picture is rather representative of Keystone, but there's better if you also want to be entertained while examining the history of comedy and film ("Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life" (1913) is one of my favorite Keystone shorts). "Tillie's Punctured Romance" just wasn't funny for me.

Chaplin began his film-making career under Sennett, which I'm sure was very important, but probably not until his Mutual shorts would he outgrow Sennett's style to become the great screen comedian and filmmaker we now know he was. His talents are visible here, but are wasted. That's more than I can say for Marie Dressler's somewhat embarrassing performance. Yet, she would do better, as well, although not until the talkies. Mabel Normand does the best job in this one.

This movie is obviously an adaptation of a play in its staginess, and it's boring to watch the actors do all the work while the camera mostly remains stationary for extended periods. One thing I kept looking at were the unessential characters, or extras, who were watching the main characters act out the play. Although I found it boring enough, at times, to concentrate on the background, in actuality, people would watch the antics of such queer characters. And, it might be meant to also reinforce for the audience that this stuff is funny, but it also reminds one that this is a filmed play.

This is also a movie, though, in more than the literal sense. That should be expected from Sennett, who was one of the earliest to define what movies are. In the film, Chaplin and Normand watch a Keystone short, which reflects the outer film's story. It reminds me of such other early films as D.W. Griffith's "A Drunkard's Reformation" (1909), which delivered the moral of the story through a play-within-the-play. Although "Tillie's Punctured Romance" doesn't have much of a moral, its film-within-the-film delivers what there is of one. Sennett has other more interesting self-referential films to his credit (e.g. "Mabel's Dramatic Career" (1913), "A Movie Star" (1916) and "The Extra Girl" (1923)), and his films were often about making fun of other films, so this demonstrates that "Tillie's Punctured Romance", while a play, is also a movie authored by Sennett--just not a good one.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Recommended for fans of Marie Dressler; less so for fans of Chaplin
dlbroome0120 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The very notion of Marie Dressler in the role of a winsome country girl is enough to induce chuckles (for those familiar with her later films, that is). The actress was in her mid-40s at the time this film was made, and a 'robust'(ahem) 40-something at that. Chaplin, then 25 years old portrays her gold-digging suitor. In the role of Tillie it is easy to see why Marie's character was so popular with live theater audiences; with her trademark facial expressions and kinetic energy she has our attention from the moment we see her -even without dialogue.

**Spoiler Alert...if anyone is concerned** Tillie's inheritance via the unexpected demise of her rich uncle catapults her into high society, and her notion of how wealthy ladies should dress and behave provide the most memorable moments. Tillie's introduction to high-society in the ballroom of her late uncle's (now her own) mansion include some funky dance moves (on her part) that seem surprisingly fresh after nearly a century...and, in a few fleeting scenes, one party guest who may provide the earliest portrayal of an obviously gay (and quite flamboyant) character in a mainstream film. Anyone willing to sit through a silent film made in 1914 has certainly seen other silent films- but this one is rougher than most; there are some jumpy cuts and some scenes in which the surviving footage is badly degraded. That, and an over-abundance of incredibly juvenile slapping/kicking/poking/falling down -which must have passed for comedy at the time- become tiresome early on. Still, the storyline holds together, and anyone who has seen Marie Dressler in 'Dinner at Eight', 'Anna Christie', or 'Min and Bill' and wished for more will want to see 'Tillie's Punctured Romance'.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Chaplin's Shaky Beginning.
Son_of_Mansfield6 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Charlie Chaplin's first feature length comedy is feature length, but a comedy in name and intention only. The plot, about a drifter conning the daughter of a rich man, is old hat and is never lightened with anything more than a pratfall. Meaning, that you don't find Chaplin mischievous, you think he is a jerk. Then there is Marie Dressler, who is the definition of frumpy and unattractive. She is much more likable, but the fact that we are to believe that she is dumb enough to want to marry Chaplin, undermines all her likability. All in all, not a high tower of the comedy genre, but a fair beginning for Chaplin and the feature length comedy.

P.S. I got this as part of a double disc, four movie DVD pack in the $5.50 bin at Wal-Mart. Charlie Chaplin's Tillie's Puntured Romance and The Kid coupled with Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. and The General. I knew there was a better reason for that bin than copies of Amos and Andrew, Rambo III, and Sheena.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Historical, if Not Hysterical
Sean Lamberger5 April 2014
Charlie Chaplin plays a close approximation of his Tramp character in this quick cut of superficial slapstick with an undercurrent of dark humor. I wasn't aware until after the fact that this was actually the very first feature-length comedy in cinematic history, but in retrospect that explains a lot. In some ways the film is downright visionary, but in many others it clearly isn't quite sure what to do with itself. The plot is barely one-note, cyclical and redundant to the end - the same characters keep getting put in the same situations over and over again - which leads me to believe it was just a case of a single-reel premise stretched over the length of a full flick. Chaplin, still discovering his on-screen sea legs, shows a ton of command and potential, but his performance is often raw and uneven. Mabel Normand is adorable as his on-screen counterpart, a fellow con-artist out to get her cut of the riches Chaplin so gracelessly pursues. A curiosity as a vivid piece of living, breathing history, it doesn't have much up its sleeve and really drags despite a very short runtime.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Farmer's Daughter
lugonian4 May 2013
TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE (Keystone, 1914), directed by Mack Sennett, credited as the "first feature length comedy," also ranks a motion picture first for Marie Dressler (1869-1934), and the initial feature comedy debut of the up-and-rising Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977). Though Dressler, new to the movies, was, at the time, figuratively speaking, a bigger attraction Chaplin, the film remains relatively known simply as a Chaplin comedy. Still under the supervision of Sennett, it offers little material by Chaplin to call his own. Though he does wear a derby during the latter portion of the story as opposed to his straw hat during the opening sequences, Chaplin doesn't sport his legendary tramp costume. Even his mustache is different from his traditional one, physically looking more like another comedian, Charlie Chase (who also appears), than his true persona. By contrast, Chaplin and Dressler are equally matched here in a story structure containing more Sennett formula of physical kicking and slapstick comedy supported by a huge assortment of other notable comics (Charles Murray, Slim Summerville, Hank Mann, Edgar Kennedy and Al St. John), and those participating in the wild chase as the Keystone Kops.

Taken from a musical play, "Tillie's Nightmare," that starred Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin gets his introduction as "The stranger - a wise guy who sought country lanes while city streets became too hot for him." Then comes Marie Dressler as Tillie Banks, a farmer's daughter, "the pride of Yokeltown and the apple of her father's eye," or one "built like a battleship," who unwittingly knocks a brick over a city slicker's heat while playing with her dog. As the apologetic Tillie makes amends by inviting the man into her home, Charlie notices her father's (Mark Swain) huge bankroll. Seeing this a chance on getting rich, Charlie proposes marriage to Tillie, who willingly accepts. As she leaves her home with him, Tillie takes her father's savings, refusing to share it with him until after the elopement. Once in the city, Charlie encounters Mabel (Mabel Normand), his "girl confederate partner in crime. After getting Tillie drunk in a restaurant, Charlie takes the money and runs off with Mabel. Unable to pay her bill, Tillie gets arrested and put in jail while Charlie and Mabel seek refuge inside a movie house where, attending the motion picture titled "Double Crossed," they imagine seeing themselves as characters portrayed on screen. Released from jail, Tillie gets a job as a waitress where one of her patrons turns out to be Charlie and Mabel. After running away and resting on a park bench with Mabel, Charlie sees a newspaper article that his Tillie has become the sole heir to $3 million by her rich uncle, Donald Banks (Charles Bennett), who met his fate fate mountain climbing on Mount Baldy. Charlie ditches Mabel, returns to Tillie. Duped once, will Tillie be fooled again? Time will tell. Let the antics begin!

Regardless of its advanced age and certain flaws, TILLIE'S PINCTURED ROMANCE is fun viewing throughout. Considering how many movies from this era have been lost and gone forever, this very early feature comedy is fortunate to have survived at all. It also gives contemporary viewers a hardy glimpse of some outlandish costumes worn its leading ladies, with Normand sporting huge hat and feather. It's also Mabel who gets to have a couple of really worth-while point-of-view close-ups often credited to director D.W. Griffith.

While Chaplin's movie career ranged from developing his craft under Sennett (1914) to starring, directing and writing his own material (1915 onward), Dressler as a silent movie comedienne was short-lived. Having appeared in several comedy shorts/features (1915-1918), two being TILLIE'S TOMATO SURPRISE (Lubin, 1915) and TILLIE WAKES UP (Peerless, 1917), Dressler wouldn't appear in another motion picture until a decade later at MGM in highly successful sentimental comedy-dramas (1927-1933), and a Academy Award before her death to cancer in 1934. It's interesting pointing out the title of TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE being used for a 1928 Al Christie/Paramount feature starring WC Fields. The new carnation finds Louise Fazenda playing the new Tillie joining the circus and becoming part of antics set during the World War. The only similarity this and the original contain is the presence of Mack Swain once again cast as Tillie's Father, and Chester Conklin, seen here as Mr. Whoozis, assuming a different character role. Though film historians have long awaited for the rediscovery of the long lost Fields version, it's the original Mack Sennett comedy that remains relatively known today.

During the years of home video, TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE had been available from public domain editions with no scoring to 50-minute 1938 reissue with new scoring, new opening titles listing cast and crew. There's also been availability through Blackhawk/Republic Home Video containing piano scoring by William Perry; and KINO Video on VHS and later DVD with clear visuals and organ score, but minus some descriptive inter-titles and Chaplin's opening character introduction. Often broadcast on Turner Classic Movies since October 1995 as part of either Chaplin or Dressler tributes, TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE is another reason why this old-styled comedy should not ever disappear from public viewing for that Tillie's romance may be punctured, but she is no flat tire. (***)
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The First Feature Length Comedy (73 Min.)
romanorum125 October 2012
Charlie Chaplin began his acting career in 1914 with the shorts "Making a Living" and "Kid Auto Races at Venice." Before the year was over, he played in "Tillie's Punctured Romance," which was really a vehicle for Marie Dressler. In the slapstick film, Chaplin already shows aspects of his famous "Little Tramp" character (funny mannerisms, odd walk, baggy pants), although his personality here is that of a scoundrel, unlike that of a helping and sympathetic gentleman. He plays a city slicker out to dupe portly and clumsy Tillie Banks (Marie Dressler) out of her money. Diminutive Charlie was 25 years old at the time; Dressler was nearly twice his age!

On her father's farm, Tillie throws a thick block of wood for her dog to fetch. It accidentally strikes Charlie the stranger as he walks by on a dirt road. She helps him up and invites him into her house. He notices her papa's thick wad of bills, and suddenly is in "love." Chaplin and Tillie soon elope to the big city, where we see the Los Angeles of 1914. There are cars and trolleys, but we do not see any horses and wagons. Anyway, Chaplin takes Tillie to a small restaurant (notice her duck hat), where he abandons her after getting her drunk and taking the money. He hooks up with his accomplice and love interest (Mabel Normand), and they go into an early 20th century movie house, with the mandatory piano player. Now we are seeing an apropos drama – a film within a film (a feature first?), where our two anti-heroes imagine themselves acting nastily on screen. Meanwhile Tillie's drunkenness gets her a visit to jail for a time. Then Charlie reads in a newspaper that Tillie's rich uncle fell mountain climbing from the summit of Old Baldy, leaving her three million dollars. So it is "bye-bye" Mabel and back to Tillie.

Will Tillie again become a patsy? Soon the scorned woman has a pistol in her hand (a feature first?), and starts shooting at the group attending the festivities at her (presumed late) uncle's mansion. There is even a Keystone Cops zany rescue in the finale. Tillie may yet be saved from herself, but will she stay dry?

We see the many slapstick gags: butt-kicking galore, the waiter pulling out a chair from under a customer (Chaplin), and a soapy floor in the restaurant kitchen that claims many victims. Chaplin even strikes a newsboy in the face, and later chest kicks and beats up a mustached fellow. (Towards the end Chaplin even kicks Tillie in the stomach!) In reality the movie is weakly scripted, and is crudely edited in places (missing scenes?). Although the film has three praised stars in Chaplin, Normand, and Dressler, it is not really that well crafted. This is Mack Sennett's film, not the fledgling Chaplin's. But it has enormous historical value, and remains a real curio.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Only So Much Pure Slapstick You Can Take
bkoganbing9 November 2009
For today's audience there are two things that are striking about Tillie's Punctured Romance. The first is that Charlie Chaplin does not get first billing here. He was not yet the star he would become, he was just another of Mack Sennett's comedy stars. He does not play the tramp character yet though there are some tramp like aspects in who he does play.

The second is that this is a chance to see Marie Dressler a whole lot earlier in her career than we know her from sound films. Marie was a very big vaudeville star and her character her was a whole lot like her act on stage. The homely big boned girl who seems to be born a total klutz.

There's not really much to the outrageous plot of this 83 minutes of unadulterated slapstick. It seems like every other minute someone was either tripping or being kicked in the derrière. That was the way it was with Mack Sennett comedies.

Chaplin plays a city slicker who takes Marie off the farm and to the big city. But when he gets there his eye roves towards Mabel Normand. Mabel back in the day was a full figured girl herself and a bit more attractive than Marie.

But when news of her rich uncle falling off Mount Baldy makes her an heiress, Charlie finds his passion for Marie and her money rekindling. Kind of leaves Mabel the odd girl out. And in the climax the Keystone Kops are called in after a brawl develops at a society party that Marie is throwing to introduce herself to society.

Tillie's Punctured Romance could have told the story in half the screen time it takes. There's only so much pure slapstick you can take at one time. Still it's not a bad film and it does display the talents of Chaplin, Dressler, and Normand and a host of other comedy names from the Mack Sennett studio.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
automatic classic that isn't that good
ajdagreat9 June 2001
If you ignore the fact that this is the first feature-length comedy ever made, this isn't that good of a movie. But since it's the first comedy, it's an instant classic.

I usually like silent movies, but this one was a little too slapsticky for me. Their idea of a hilarious joke was when someone got kicked in their rear end. The movie became pretty predictable (hmm...Tillie is waxing the floor, but I bet Charlie Chaplin STILL doesn't fall down...oh, well, I guess I was wrong).

Even though the movie is nothing spectacular, if you're like me you'll want to see it anyway, just to be able to say that you saw the first feature-length comedy ever! Well! Aren't you special!
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Historically important but not much more
derek-19923 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This in fact wasn't the first feature length film comedy but certainly was the first to make a big impact. It really cemented the young Charlie Chaplin in the affections of the public, oddly enough he was then receiving $1000 dollars less in salary than his leading lady Marie Dressler was getting.

Looking at this film now its Chaplin and Mabel Normand who come off best, Dressler overdoes the mugging to an outrageous degree, appearing to flail wildly about and shooting everything in sight ! Despite the fact this was based on a theatre play with Dressler there is no refinement here its basic knockabout slapstick, really two reels artificially extended to six with frankly unbelievable plotting.

*Spoilers ahead* At one point in particular an important character is apparently killed after falling down a mountain but miraculously gets up a few reels later ! Some of these absurdities can still be quite funny and of course the Keystone Kops come along at the end to clear things up falling into the sea in the process.

This film also betrays the time when it was made by portraying Dressler and Normand as fairly dumb to be taken in by conman Chaplin. Its a neat turn by Charlie quite unlike his famous Tramp.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews