Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914) starring Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand
In Tillie’s Punctured Romance, Charlie Chaplin is not playing his beloved Little Tramp character. Instead, he plays a city slicker, a con man who, after a fight with his girlfriend (Mabel Normand), has escaped from the city — a wise guy who sought country lanes when city streets became too hot for him. He stumbles upon Tillie (Marie Dressler), a homely farm girl whose father has a large bankroll of cash to pay his farm hands. Cad that Charlie is, he entices Tillie to “borrow” the money and run away with him to the city. Smitten by his charms, his attention, and his smooth talk, she does exactly that — only to have Charlie abscond with the money and reunite with Mabel at the first opportunity – after getting Tillie drunk at a restaurant.
Soon, Tillie and Charlie are moving into her uncle’s mansion, where Charlie begins abusing the servants. And hiring Mabel as a new maid so that he can continue his affair with her under his wife’s nose. After a few fights and some dancing, Tillie catches Charlie kissing Mabel. Tillie proves the truth behind the old saying that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” as Tillie pulls out a loaded gun and starts shooting at everyone in sight
Soon Charlie and Mabel are running for their lives. And Tilly’s dead uncle shows up — not having truly died after all! With the threat of being arrested after having damaged his mansion, Tillie is fleeing from the police as well. The Keystone Kops are soon on their way, knocking over everyone and everything on their way to the dock where the three fugitives have all gone — and knock Tillie into the water! It’s very slapstick as they try to recover Tillie from the water. Charlie and Mabel argue again, and Charlie runs off. The film ends with Mabel and Tillie realizing that they’ve both been used by Charlie, and the girls becoming friends.
Tillie’s Punctured Romance is, even after all of these years, a very funny film. It’s stuffed with slapstick comedy throughout, from Charlie Chaplin and from both of his co-stars as well. The story flows quickly for the most part, and is truly funny, although I wouldn’t describe it as laugh-out-loud funny. My children enjoyed Tillie’s Punctured Romance with me, and we hope that you do as well.
Trivia for Tillie’s Punctured Romance starring Charlie Chaplin and Marie Dressler
- The first feature-length comedy ever made, and also Charles Chaplin’s first feature film.
- 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 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. 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.
- Tillie’s Nightmare is a musical which opened at Herald Square Theatre on Broadway in New York City on 5 May 1910 and closed 9 July 1910 after 77 performances. Marie Dressler originated her role as Tillie in the show.
- This film marked the last time that Charlie Chaplin would be directed by someone other than himself.
- Seventh of twelve movies that starred The Keystone Cops.