Tillie's Punctured Romance ★★

2019 Weekly Comedy Challenge: 2/52 - (Week 2: A comedy starring Mabel Normand.)

Over 100 years old, Tillie's Punctured Romance was the first feature length comedy ever made. It was also Charlie Chaplin's first feature length film and it was the last time he would be directed by someone other than himself.

For its milestones, Tillie's Punctured Romance is a worthy piece of film history. It's got many well choreographed gags and physical comedy galore. However, it feels a bit repetitious in the way the characters' get up to their hijinks. The plot is a bit flimzy and doesn't do much aside from set the stage for the physical comedy. It's not a bad film. It just hasn't aged terribly well.

The performances from the main trio of performers are varied. Charlie Chaplin stands out as the master of prat falls and comic timing in regards to physical torment. I was surprisingly taken by Mabel Normand's almost laid-back approach to her performance. She feels very naturalistic in her behavior and that provides a good counterbalance to Chaplin.

Marie Dressler plays the titular Tillie. She's a large woman and that comes into play a lot in the comedy. It's entertaining to see her move quickly around a scene and knock over people in her way. The slapstick is nice but the movie leans too hard on her size to get comedic results. She also seems to be more reactionary in her performance and that didn't quite work for me as well as the other performers' styles did.

I'm glad I saw Tillie's Punctured Romance. Although I didn't connect with it in the end, it's an interesting piece of film history.