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Tillie's Punctured Romance 1928
Description: The ring master is plotting to receive the circus owner done away with in a lion cage so he can take over.
Released: 03 Mar 1928 Director: A. Edward Sutherland Writers: Monte Brice, Keene Thompson Actors: W.C. Fields, Louise Fazenda, Chester Conklin, Mack Swain Genres: Comedy
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Tillie's Punctured Romance Reviews:

I have spent the past 45 years researching, studying and enjoying the life and professional career of W.C.Fields. It has been and continues to be an all consuming passion of mine. With the exception of the 1926 detail SO'S YOUR OLD MAN I trust I have either acquired or at least seen virtually each bit of extant movie in which Fields appeared. I have much of his work in my 16mm movie collection as well as the usual VHS and DVD. I trust I have each ebook ever written about the topics including ebooks not exclusively dedicated to Fields but which contain chapters or profiles pertinent to the man. When I was a child in Fresh York Town I spent many an hour at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts trying to search out what I should about Fields' vaudeville career as well as ferreting through ancient editions of "Motion Picture News" and "Motion Picture Herald" in an effort to search contemporaneous reviews of the films. I was a member of the Fresh York tent of the Sons Of The Desert and while this organization is primarily for Laurel and Hardy enthusiasts I was able to network with others (one of whom was Leonard Maltin) and hold myself up to date on the recent happenings with respect to movie preservation and ongoing "new discoveries". I am no longer in N.Y.C. or for that matter in a metropolitan zone of any significance or consequence and am thus "out of the loop". I don't even have a computer; this one belonging to my girlfriend. I hold both Ronald Fields' first ebook about his grandfather as well as James Curtis' perfect biography by my bedside at arm's length. My ardent fervor has neither diminished nor abated after all of these years nor do I imagine it will. O.K.....so what? Who cares?..... What does all of this mean to anyone but this author? It seems to me that news of a "find" of this magnitude would be of landmark importance not only to Fields fanatics but to the globe of movie scholarship and study at large. The reviewer who saw this movie also claims to have seen at least one another missing W.C.Fields movie (HIS LORDSHIP'S DILEMMA) and although he doesn't specifically claim to have seen it, his review of the movie FOOLS FOR LUCK strongly suggests that he has. Why then isn't this BIG, BIG NEWS??? To me, finding or claiming to have seen not one but THREE of the movies on the mercifully short list of missing Fields movies would be a matter of major significance amongst historians irrespective of one's private feelings about the subject. Clearly Fields does not play the same following today as do Laurel & Hardy or Chaplin. If someone managed to unearth a print of Laurel & Hardy's HATS OFF it would be an extremely noteworthy event.....a REALLY large deal. So too could someone search the Marx Brothers' HUMORISK or Chaplin's HER FRIEND THE BANDIT although in a purely speculative vein BANDIT is probably just other Keystone. If it sounds as though I am either doubting or trying to discredit the reviewer who claims to have seen these movies allow me tell unequivocally that this is not the case. A several years ago I e-mailed and had a brief but extremely pleasant correspondence with this gentleman pursuant to a review he had written of a very rare Edward G. Robinson movie which he claims to have seen. When I found his reviews of these Fields movies this past summer I hastily e-mailed him with essentially the same concerns I have set forth here. Curiously, this e-mail was not answered. Hmmmm..... I have since learned that the reviewer has written his final review (for METROPOLIS, his favourite film) and that perhaps my query to him regarding these Fields movies was made too late. As I mentioned earlier, I have no pc of my own but do check the Fields web sights occasionally. How come none of the another Fields fanatics worldwide haven't questioned this? Surely, this gotta have occurred to some of you who are more than just casual admirers or devotees of W.C.Fields. If any of you search this a bit mystifying or perplexing as do I, please allow me know. SOMETHING isn't quite right here.....


"Tillie's Punctured Romance" (1928), starring W.C. Fields, is supposedly a makeover of the landmark 1914 comedy movie of the same game starring Marie Dressler and Charlie Chaplin (which was itself based on a scene comedy starring Dressler) ... and Keystone stalwart comedian Mack Swain even repeats his role as Tillie's father from the original film. But, except for the title, the two films have almost nothing in common ... and the Fields version, alas, isn't even very funny.The opening shot in this film is the familiar Paramount logo, so I expected nice things. Paramount were Fields's regular studio at this point, and Paramount everytime surpassed all the another Hollywood studios in producing hilarious, innovative comedies. But then I saw the rest of the credits, and my heart sank. "Tillie's Punctured Romance" was released by Paramount (hence the logo), but it wasn't a Paramount production. This film was now produced by Al Christie of Educational Pictures, a cheapjack studio which specialised in churning out unfunny comedies made on minuscule budgets. The weak budget (and terrible scripting and direction) are obvious all through this film.In the Keystone original, Tillie (played by Dressler) is an ugly-duckling heiress who attracts the attention of confidence trickster Chaplin. Tillie thinks that Charlie genuinely loves her, but of course he's really after Tillie's cash while secretly wooing cute chambermaid Mabel Normand. This plot was funny and believable. The plot of the "remake" makes no sense, and isn't funny. Louise Fazenda plays plain-Jane farmgirl Tillie, who runs away with a travelling circus and is promptly seduced by ringmaster Fields. Since Tilllie isn't good-looking and has no money, it's not clear why Fields's hero is so interested in her.Pint-sized comedian Chester Conklin was a long-time second banana at Keystone, usually testing an annoying tiny rival to Swain or Chaplin or some another necessary comedian. He played secondary roles in many Keystone comedies (including the original "Tillie"), but he has a much larger role than usual here, as the owner of the circus and Fields's rival for Fazenda's affections. Unfortunately, Conklin proves here that he's no lead comedian. (He would go back to helping roles in Chaplin's "Modern Times" and some Preston Sturges movies.)This film's sequences in the lion cage are embarrassing; the crude editing and camera angles create it very obvious that the actors are never onscreen with a live lion.In the last two reels of the movie, for wish of anything better to do, Fields and Conklin run off to the trenches of Globe Fight One, with Fazenda joining them as an ambulance driver. "The Large Parade" (a fight drama) was a solid money-maker of the late silent era; for few years thereafter, many comedy movies exploited Globe Fight One themes in an attempt to ride the coat-tails of that movie's box-office success."Tillie's Punctured Romance" manages to rip off its Keystone predecessor AND "The Large Parade".Fields's hero in this movie is fully unsympathetic and villainous, without any of the redeeming traits which he showed in his more famous films. I'm very much a W.C. Fields fanatic (and I like Conklin and Fazenda too), so it pains me to tell that none of them come off well in this unnecessary and unfunny film. Don't confuse "Tillie's Punctured Romance" with "Tillie and Gus", a soon (and much better) W.C. Fields movie which is quite unrelated to this one. Stick to the original "Tillie's Punctured Romance"


According to what the actual review says, this "Lost Film" apparently has been found in the reviewer's attic. If so, I shall add this title,in spite of not having seen it, to a future e-mail to Universal's site for a future volume of the "W.C. Fields Comedy Collection" 5-DVD box-set series. Although the reviewer at hand didn't play this too much, it is vital, since it has been lost for over 80 years. It is great to know that a distribution print has been discovered, thus making it a possible candidate for future DVD release to be seen by the general public. If this is released, it could be digitally cleaned up & contain a newly recorded piano soundtrack utitlizing the original piano rolls (if THEY survived). Thanks for proving the existence of this film!



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