Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Mabel Normand, Charlie Chaplin and Marie Dressler
TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE (1914). Produced and directed by Mack Sennett. Restored version.

Tillie (Marie Dressler) is a hard-working country girl who gets little love and lots of abuse from her father (Mack Swain), who is fond of booting her in the rear. Therefore she is easily duped by a stranger (Charlie Chaplin) into running off with him with her father's stash. Unfortunately for Tillie, the Stranger already has a much prettier girlfriend, Mabel (Mabel Normand), and the two of them run off with Tillie's money. Tillie gets a job as a waitress, but is arrested when she sees the couple and takes after them, but she's released when the cops learn she is the niece of a certain millionaire (Charles Bennett). Tillie's uncle is just as mean to her as her father, but when he falls off a mountain she becomes his heir, a fact that she doesn't know but the Stranger does ... Tillie's Punctured Romance is the film adaptation of Marie Dressler's hit Broadway show Tillie's Nightmare, and it was similarly well-received by the public. The three leads are fine, with Dressler getting the lion's share of the action and most of the laughs. Tillie is so put-upon that you almost can't blame her when she positively runs amok at the end of the picture, although Dressler isn't really given much opportunity to milk her role for pathos in this farcical comedy. She inherits her uncle's millions without benefit of inquest or probate! Some very amusing bits in this, and Dressler, while bordering on the vulgar at times, is ever-delightful [although it perhaps remained for the sound era to unveil her special genius]. This is probably the closest one can come to getting any sense of what Dressler was like in vaudeville and on the legitimate stage.

Verdict: Overlong but quite cute in spots. **1/2.

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