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Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914 film)

Tillie's Punctured Romance was the first feature-length comedy film from Keystone Film Company and the Christie Film Company, produced in 1914. A silent film directed by Mack Sennett, the film stars Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand, Charles Chaplin, and the Keystone Cops.

Plot

Chaplin plays 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

(uncredited)

  • Milton Berle ... Kid (uncredited, and doubtful; see below)
  • 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)

Characteristics of the Film

Although he wears a moustache, 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

Dressler appeared as Tillie in two more movies, Tillie's Tomato Surprise (1915) and Tillie Wakes Up (1917), although in the latter film 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

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.

See also

External links

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