Tillie the Toiler (1941)

67 mins | Comedy | 7 August 1941

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HISTORY

This picture marked the screen debut of Kay Harris. According to a news item in the LAEx, Harris was working as a secretary in Cincinnati when she was discovered by Penny Singleton, the wife of Robert Sparks, the producer of this film. According to a Feb 1940 HR news item, Columbia intended Tillie the Toiler to be the first entry in a "Tillie the Toiler" series, but poor box office reception resulted in the studio's decision to cancel its plans for the series. The 1927 Cosmopolitan Picture Tillie the Toiler starring Marion Davies and directed by Hobart Henley (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.5731) was also based on Russ Westover's comic strip character. ...

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This picture marked the screen debut of Kay Harris. According to a news item in the LAEx, Harris was working as a secretary in Cincinnati when she was discovered by Penny Singleton, the wife of Robert Sparks, the producer of this film. According to a Feb 1940 HR news item, Columbia intended Tillie the Toiler to be the first entry in a "Tillie the Toiler" series, but poor box office reception resulted in the studio's decision to cancel its plans for the series. The 1927 Cosmopolitan Picture Tillie the Toiler starring Marion Davies and directed by Hobart Henley (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.5731) was also based on Russ Westover's comic strip character.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Aug 1941
---
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1941
---
Film Daily
13 Aug 1941
p. 13
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1940
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 1941
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 1941
p. 3
Los Angeles Examiner
25 Feb 1941
---
Motion Picture Herald
9 Aug 1941
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Jul 1941
p. 195
New York Times
13 Aug 1941
p. 8
Variety
13 Aug 1941
p. 8
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd eng
Sd eng
PRODUCTION MISC
Style show staged by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the comic strip "Tillie the Toiler" created by Russ Westover, copyrighted by King Features Syndicate, Inc. (3 Jan 1921--Mar 1959).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 August 1941
Production Date:
28 Apr--29 May 1941
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Columbia Pictures Corp.
14 August 1941
LP10652
Duration(in mins):
67
Length(in feet):
6,009
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

Tillie Jones, a fetching student at the Modern Secretarial School, wins the heart of Clarence MacDougall, a bookkeeper for the Simpkins Dress Company, when she accidentally rams his car outside the office building in which he works and she attends school. Consequently, when Mac's boss, Mr. Simpkins, fires his secretary, Mac suggests hiring Tillie. At the office, Mac soon discovers that he must vie for Tillie's affections with Wally Whipple, the office manager. Finding her shorthand deficient, Tillie writes a letter from memory that Simpkins has dictated to George Winker, a potential partner. When Tillie transcribes Simpkins' negative comments about Winker into the document, Winker threatens to sue for slander and dissolves their partnership negotiations. Before leaving the office, he also steals the next season's fashion designs. Simpkins is about to fire Tillie when his attorney calls to warn him that Winker is a crook. Relieved that Tillie's faux pas prevented him from entering into business with Winker, Simpkins goes to Chicago on business and puts Mac is charge of the office, instructing him to send the new Benton line of dresses into the workroom as soon as they arrive. When Ted Williams, a dress designer who has been trying to sell his designs to Simpkins, appears at the office, Tillie mistakes him for the Benton representative and sends his sketches into the workroom. Deciding that Simpkins should display his dresses in a prestigious fashion show being staged at a local hotel, Tillie convinces Mac to underwrite the expenses for the show and appoint her head model. On the day of the pageant, Simpkins returns to the office and ...

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Tillie Jones, a fetching student at the Modern Secretarial School, wins the heart of Clarence MacDougall, a bookkeeper for the Simpkins Dress Company, when she accidentally rams his car outside the office building in which he works and she attends school. Consequently, when Mac's boss, Mr. Simpkins, fires his secretary, Mac suggests hiring Tillie. At the office, Mac soon discovers that he must vie for Tillie's affections with Wally Whipple, the office manager. Finding her shorthand deficient, Tillie writes a letter from memory that Simpkins has dictated to George Winker, a potential partner. When Tillie transcribes Simpkins' negative comments about Winker into the document, Winker threatens to sue for slander and dissolves their partnership negotiations. Before leaving the office, he also steals the next season's fashion designs. Simpkins is about to fire Tillie when his attorney calls to warn him that Winker is a crook. Relieved that Tillie's faux pas prevented him from entering into business with Winker, Simpkins goes to Chicago on business and puts Mac is charge of the office, instructing him to send the new Benton line of dresses into the workroom as soon as they arrive. When Ted Williams, a dress designer who has been trying to sell his designs to Simpkins, appears at the office, Tillie mistakes him for the Benton representative and sends his sketches into the workroom. Deciding that Simpkins should display his dresses in a prestigious fashion show being staged at a local hotel, Tillie convinces Mac to underwrite the expenses for the show and appoint her head model. On the day of the pageant, Simpkins returns to the office and finds an army of bill collectors demanding payment for their services in staging the show. Furious, Simpkins hurries to the hotel, where he encounters Winker who brags that he is exhibiting the Benton styles. Determined to best Winker, Simpkins allows Tillie's show to continue, and when it is over, his fashions win all the laurels and an avalanche of orders. Thrilled, Simpkins promotes Mac to general manager and puts Tillie in charge of style promotion. Whipple is then forced to bid Tillie and the business farewell when he is drafted into the Army.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.