Tillie’s Punctured Romance is a 1914 American silent comedy film directed by directed by Mack Sennett and starring Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand, Charles Chaplin, and the Keystone Cops. The picture was the first feature-length film produced by the Keystone Film Company.
The film is based on Dressler’s stage play Tillie’s Nightmare by A. Baldwin Sloane and Edgar Smith. Tillie’s Punctured Romance is notable as being the last Chaplin full-length film which he neither wrote nor directed himself as well as being the first ever feature length comedy. Chaplin also plays an utterly different role from his recently created Tramp character in this movie.
Chaplin portrays 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.
Directed by Mack Sennett
Produced by Mack Sennett
Written by Hampton Del Ruth
Based on Tillie’s Nightmare
by A. Baldwin Sloane and Edgar Smith
The Keystone Cops
Charley Chase (uncredited)
Cinematography – Hans F. Koenekamp (uncredited)
Frank D. Williams (uncredited)
Studio – Keystone Film Company
Distributed by Mutual Film
Release date – November 14, 1914 (United States)