|Tillie's Punctured Romance|
|Directed by||Mack Sennett|
|Written by|| Hampton Del Ruth |
|Based on||Tillie's Nightmare|
by A. Baldwin Sloane and Edgar Smith
|Produced by||Mack Sennett|
|Starring|| Marie Dressler |
The Keystone Cops
Charley Chase (uncredited)
|Cinematography|| Hans F. Koenekamp (uncredited)|
Frank D. Williams (uncredited)
|Distributed by||Alco Film Corporation|
82 minutes (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 Kops. The picture is the first feature-length comedyand was the only feature-length comedy made by the Keystone Film Company.
At the time of production Marie Dressler was a major stage star, and in this film Chaplin and Normand support her as leads within Keystone's stock company of actors.
The film, based on Dressler's stage play Tillie's Nightmare by A. Baldwin Sloane and Edgar Smith, is the first feature-length slapstick comedy in all of cinema.
This was the last time Charlie Chaplin acted in a film that he neither wrote nor directed. He plays a slightly different role from his Tramp character, which was relatively new at the time. However, he retains a moustache (here a pencil-thin "dude" type rather than his usual "toothbrush"), thin cane and distinctive walk.
Tillie provides an early example of film within a film, when the couple go to the cinema to watch A Thief's Fate, large sections of which are seen.
Charles Chaplin portrays a womanizing city man who meets Tillie (Marie Dressler) in the country after a fight with his girlfriend (Mabel Normand). When he sees that Tillie's father (Mack Swain) 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 Keystone film in a nickelodeon entitled "A Thief's Fate" (which is, ironically, a melodrama, a type of film Keystone did not produce) which illustrates their thievery in the form of a morality play. They both feel guilty and leave the theater. While sitting on a park bench, a paperboy (Gordon Griffith) asks him to buy a newspaper. He does so, and reads the story about Tillie's Uncle Banks (Charles Bennett), 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 although she is skeptical at first, she believes that he truly loves her and they marry. 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, alive after all. He goes back to his mansion, in disarray after Tillie instigated a gunfight (a direct result of the husband smuggling the old girlfriend into the house) which, luckily, did not 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.
Uncredited[ citation needed ]
Mack Sennett, whilst working with a degree of autonomy, was working for the larger company of Kessel and Baumann.
When slapstick impresario Mack Sennett proposed to adapt the 1910 Broadway comedy Tillie's Nightmare to the screen in 1914, he enlisted the immensely successful star of the stage production, the then 45-year-old Marie Dressler, to play the guileless ingenue, Tillie Banks.Dressler was paid a huge fee of £2500 per week and was also meant to have a share of the profits of Kessler and Baumann but they passed the distribution contract to Alco, voiding Dressler's contract with K & B and forcing Dressler to sue them. The situation was further complicated by Alco going bust, mainly due to overpaying for the distribution rights: £100,000. Chaplin's salary was far less than Dressler, certainly under $1000 a week, as he demanded an increase to $1000 a week early in 1915.
Comedian Charles Chaplin, who had been with Sennett's studio since December 1913, was selected to play opposite Dressler as Charlie, an unscrupulous playboy and bounder. Though Chaplin's signature "The Tramp" character was already well-developed in other Sennett one- and two-reel films (he had already appeared in more than 30 shorts as the Tramp by the time), here he abandons the sweet-natured hobo to play a villain. The contrast between the diminutive, "bow-legged" Chaplin and the bovine and "bulky" Dressler, adds to the absurdity of their pairing.
Sennett's augmentation of the film length from two reels to six reels provided him with sufficient scope to showcase his ensemble of talented players in numerous venues:
"...many scenes are shot on location, and Sennett intercuts deftly to four different locations. The film’s final reel is a comedic crescendo, building from a brief pie fight to mayhem caused by Tillie firing a pistol indiscriminately, culminating with a farcical chase on a pier featuring the Keystone Cops on land and sea".
The film, which costs roughly $50,000 ($1.2 million in 2015) to make, 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.
Milton Berle always claimed that he played the five-year-old paperboy in the film.but the role was actually portrayed by Gordon Griffith.
This is one of only two films (the other is Making a Living , his first film, where he also plays a "dude" non-Tramp character) in which both Chaplin and the Keystone Cops appear.
Following its December 21, 1914 premiere at the Los Angeles Republic Theatre,the film was a tremendous success. As the Mutual Film Corporation, distributors of all Keystone shorts, was not equipped to handle features from them, Tillie became the only Keystone production to be distributed by the newly formed (and short-lived) Alco Film Corporation. It remained in theatrical release for years, being continually re-edited and shortened, and much later having optical soundtracks added featuring music, sound effects and narration.
For decades the film was only available in poor quality, truncated prints, but eventually David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates released his restoration on LaserDisc (1997) and DVD (1999) via Image Entertainment. It was coupled with Mabel's Married Life (1914), another Keystone film featuring Normand, Chaplin and Swain. In 2003 a second restoration, a collaboration between UCLA Film and Television Archive and the British Film Institute, used more complete, higher quality materials and saw Tillie returned almost to its original length. This version has been released in the fully restored Chaplin at Keystone 4-DVD box set (2010) by various labels worldwide.
Dressler appeared as Tillie in three more films, 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 is married and so has a different surname.
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 film actually bears no resemblance to the 1914 film aside from the shared title and that Chester Conklin and Mack Swain appear in both films.
In The Simpsons episode American History X-cellent , one of Mr. Burns' belongings includes a ticket stub for Tillie's Punctured Romance.
The Keystone Cops are fictional, humorously incompetent policemen featured in silent film slapstick comedies produced by Mack Sennett for his Keystone Film Company between 1912 and 1917.
Mack Sennett was a Canadian actor, director, comedian, and studio head who was known as the "King of Comedy" during his career.
The Tramp, also known as the Little Tramp, was English actor Charlie Chaplin's most memorable on-screen character and an icon in world cinema during the era of silent film. The Tramp is also the title of a silent film starring Chaplin, which Chaplin wrote and directed in 1915.
Amabel Ethelreid Normand, better known as Mabel Normand, was an American silent film actress, screenwriter, director, producer, and comedian. She was a popular star and collaborator of Mack Sennett in their Keystone Studios films, and at the height of her career in the late 1910s and early 1920s had her own film studio and production company, the Mabel Normand Feature Film Company. On screen, she appeared in twelve successful films with Charlie Chaplin and seventeen with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, sometimes writing and directing films featuring Chaplin as her leading man. In the 1920s Normand's name was linked with scandal, including the 1922 murder of her friend, the director, William Desmond Taylor and later the 1924 shooting of Courtland S. Dines: Dines had been shot by Normand's chauffeur, Kelly using her pistol after a drunken Dines had allegedly said derogatory things to Normand. After police interrogation, she was ruled out as a suspect in the murder. Normand suffered a recurrence of tuberculosis in 1923, which led to a decline in her health, an early retirement from films in 1926, and her death in 1930 at age 36.
Tillie's Punctured Romance is the name of two early comedy films:
Mack Swain was a prolific early American film actor, who appeared in many of Mack Sennett’s comedies at Keystone Studios, including the Keystone Cops series. He also appeared in major features by Charlie Chaplin and starred in both the world's first feature length comedy and first film to feature a Movie-within-a-movie premise.
Chester Cooper Conklin was an early American film comedian who started at Keystone Studios as one of Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops, often paired with Mack Swain. He appeared in a series of films with Mabel Normand and worked closely with Charlie Chaplin, both in silent and sound films.
Edendale is a historical name for a district in Los Angeles, California, northwest of Downtown Los Angeles, in what is known today as Echo Park, Los Feliz and Silver Lake. In the opening decades of the 20th century, in the era of silent movies, Edendale was known as the home of most major movie studios on the West Coast. Among its many claims, it was home to the Keystone Kops, and the site of many movie firsts, including Charlie Chaplin's first movie, the first feature-length comedy, and the first pie-in-the-face. The Edendale movie studios were mostly concentrated in a four-block stretch of Allesandro Street, between Berkeley Avenue and Duane Street. Allesandro Street was later renamed Glendale Boulevard.
Alice Howell was a silent film comedy actress from New York City. She was the mother of actress Yvonne Howell.
Caught in a Cabaret is a 1914 short comedy film written and directed by Mabel Normand and starring Normand and Charles Chaplin.
Mabel's Busy Day is a 1914 short comedy film starring Mabel Normand and Charles Chaplin; the film was also written and directed by Mabel Normand. The supporting cast includes Chester Conklin, Slim Summerville, Edgar Kennedy, Al St. John, Charley Chase, and Mack Sennett.
Mabel's Strange Predicament is a 1914 American film starring Mabel Normand and Charles Chaplin, notable for being the first film for which Chaplin donned the costume of The Tramp, although his appearance in the costume in Kid Auto Races at Venice was released first. The film was directed by Normand and produced by Mack Sennett.
Caught in the Rain is a 1914 American comedy silent film starring Charlie Chaplin. This film was the first of many movies in which Chaplin both directed and played the lead. The short film was produced by Mack Sennett for Keystone Studios with a running time of 16 minutes.
The Fatal Mallet is a 1914 American-made motion picture starring Charles Chaplin and Mabel Normand. The film was written and directed by Mack Sennett, who also portrays one of Chaplin's rivals for Normand's attention.
Gentlemen of Nerve is a 1914 American comedy silent film directed by Charles Chaplin, starring Chaplin and Mabel Normand, and produced by Mack Sennett for Keystone Studios.
Getting Acquainted, subsequently retitled A Fair Exchange, is a 1914 American comedy silent film written and directed by Charles Chaplin, starring Chaplin and Mabel Normand, and produced by Mack Sennett for Keystone Studios.
Mabel's Stormy Love Affair is a 1914 film directed by and starring Mabel Normand, and produced by Mack Sennett.
Al St. John (1893–1963) was an American comic actor who appeared in 394 films between 1913 and 1952. Starting at Mack Sennett's Keystone Film Company, St. John rose through the ranks to become one of the major comedy stars of the 1920s, though less than half of his starring roles still survive today. With the advent of sound drastically changing and curtailing the two-reel comedy format, St. John diversified, creating a second career for himself as a comic sidekick in Western films and ultimately developing the character of "Fuzzy Q. Jones", for which he is best known in posterity.
Frank Opperman (1861–1922) was an actor in American silent films. In 1916, he was reported to have had a 29-year career on stage and a 7-year film career. Between 1903 and 1907, Opperman appeared three times on Broadway, in Little Lord Fauntleroy, Cashel Byron, and an adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin.