The first feature from Charlie Chaplin is a wee bit underwhelming!
Written By: Hampton Del Ruth, Craig Hutchinson, & Mack Sennett
Directed By: Charles Bennett & Mack Sennett
Watching Charlie Chaplin play a devilish rogue, a cad if you will, as opposed to the lovable Tramp was an interesting diversion. However, that’s all Tillie’s Punctured Romance ends up being, an interesting diversion. Compared to the films of Mr. Chaplin that surround this effort, well, Tillie’s Punctured Romance is far too slapstick and not funny enough in said slapstick. Mr. Chaplin is funny, but in this film he’s not surrounded by funny situations, and that hurts the film.
I liked watching Mr. Chaplin play up the roguishness of his character. It should surprise no one that watching Mr. Chaplin do his thing was the highlight of Tillie’s Punctured Romance. In the best of Mr. Chaplin’s films he is surrounded by scenarios or other people who help to draw out his comedy or his heartfelt sentimentality. Tillie’s Punctured Romance has no such artifacts in place. The film places all of the laughter on Mr. Chaplin’s shoulders. For the most part Mr. Chaplin succeeds and is funny to watch. However, when the camera is on the title character of Tillie, the film really suffers.
The reason why the film suffers when the camera is on Tillie is simple, she’s a boorish character who is neither funny or interesting. Her mannerisms had me sighing in dismay as opposed to smiling in laughter. Too much of the film is built around her, yet at the same time I understand that she is needed in order for the story to work. Still, she presents the larger failing of Tillie’s Punctured Romance, the settings, the side characters, and everything else that is not Mr. Chaplin himself simply isn’t funny or interesting.
I didn’t dislike Tillie’s Punctured Romance, and it’s not a bad film. It’s a well made film, that has its share of laughs. As rote of a word as it may be, I found Tillie’s Punctured Romance merely good. I know that’s not sound criticism, but sometimes that’s the sort of criticism that fits the film. Tillie’s Punctured Romance is a good film, but a film that isn’t as funny as it could be. Most of all Tillie’s Punctured Romance is a film that fails to buoy a nice performance from Charlie Chaplin with anything in the way of support. In the films that followed Tillie’s Punctured Romance Mr. Chaplin would show that he could provide much more than merely good entertainment, and he would do so for many years to come.