December 1, 2016
Tillie's Punctured Romance.
Review #880: Tillie's Punctured Romance.
Marie Dressler (Tillie Banks, Country Girl), Mabel Normand (Mabel, Charlie's Girl Friend), Charles Chaplin (Charlie, City Slicker), Mack Swain (John Banks, Tillie's Father), Charles Bennett (Uncle Banks, Tillie's millionaire uncle), and Chester Conklin (Mr. Whoozis/Singing Waitor) Directed by Mack Sennett.
I figured that there really needed to be something unique to begin the month of December, and it happens to be my birthday today as well. As such, it only make sense to do the first feature-length comedy, released nearly 102 years ago. This is the earliest film covered on Movie Night (one year earlier than #763 - A Fool There Was), based off a play called Tillie's Nightmare. The film certainly seems a bit stagey at times, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. It was made by Keystone Studios, with Mack Sennett, a legendary comedic innovator (known as "The King of Comedy" during his lifetime) of the time in the form of slapstick, which is present heavily in this film. The movie runs from 74 to 82 minutes, depending on what version you are watching, though it runs smoothly enough regardless of the cut. Dressler manages to have a fair amount of screen presence, and she handles the slapstick quite well, while expressing herself quite a bit with a fine amount of grace. Chaplin (in a role not like The Tramp, for once) is also pretty good, in part because he handles the slapstick and action with enough cleverness and his own kind of charm. Normand is also pretty good, handling the situations that go on with a fine bit of presence while having some decent chemistry with Chaplin, with Swain and Bennett also doing fair jobs as well. The Keystone Cops make an appearance in the film as well, and they are pretty funny in the scenes they show up in. The slapstick presented in the movie manages to work most of the time, in part because of how quick it is, without any sort of cartoonishly overplayed comedic element. The trips and falls (and hits) are conveyed well, even in silent form. The story is pretty efficient at accompanying the comedy as well. The climax is one to behold, with lots of falls and a large set to open up many sort of gags, one involving a falling bed. On the whole, this is a neat movie that is more than just a historical footnote, with a good deal of comedy that works on numerous levels that make for good entertainment.
Happy Birthday to all the people on December 1, such as Bette Midler, Woody Allen, Sarah Silverman, and...me, too.
Overall, I give it 8 out of 10 stars.