College; Tillie's Punctured Romance
Is there anything in life funnier than Buster Keaton at his best? Directed by James W. Horne, College isn’t Keaton’s best (his Sherlock, Jr. and The Navigator are unavailable on video), but it gives him full rein to show off his extraordinary athletic prowess as a stuffy student who fails, hilariously, at every sport imaginable, as well as his tryout as a soda jerk. And Keaton’s combination of deadpan precision and painful tumbles never fails.
Charlie Chaplin is top billed on the box for Tillie’s Punctured Romance, the first feature-length comedy in movie history-and he has many choice moments as a shady city slicker in this Mack Sennett-directed film. But the true star is Marie Dressler as the grotesque farmer’s daughter Chaplin pursues through various calamities. Kino does an excellent job of restoring silent films like these, and it used more than one print to assemble a complete version of Romance (73 minutes, as opposed to the previous video edition of 38 minutes). The result is surprisingly entertaining. Often dismissed as a historic curio, this adaptation of a Broadway show is also buoyed by the outsize performances of Chaplin, Mabel Normand, and several other comedians.
Tillie’s Punctured Romance: B