Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Chaplin Carbon Copy On The Loose


Billy West Is A Faux Charlie in The Hobo (1917)

Stout and youthful Babe Hardy puts away a tower of flapjacks and mile-long sausage in opener segments of The Hobo I hope they didn't shoot twice, his eating as prodigious as any screen-depicted before or since. Was Babe's appetite half so ravenous in private life? It was vigorous golf that controlled weight over a career's peak; real obesity came only with cessation of sport and increase of drink, that being twenty-five years past The Hobo and Babe being fresh-faced rival to Chaplin imitator Billy West, who really had CC nailed and still can fool unwary watchers. How many less laughs did Chaplin fakes earn in crowded theatres circa '17? The Billy Wests were not cheap affairs, and the best of them are funny by standards of comedy that competed with Charlie. It helped too to have former CC supporters on hand to do a same for West, in this case Leo White from Chaplin's Essanay period. West runs through largely episodic antics, two reels eating up inspiration fast, thus action spill out of train station setting to purloined autos, police giving chase, and West sign-off with Chaplinesque "pathos." I couldn't decide if that part was homage, or Billy mocking Charlie for a device that by 1917 was familiar to CC's larger public.

5 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

Were people so desperate for anything Chaplin that they accepted a blatant copy? I guess so.

Funny how the present-day Billy West is a voice-over artist who can imitate pretty much anybody. You can find him on YouTube doing a killer Larry Fine.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I don't see West mocking Chaplin in anything he did.

One does not bite the hand that feeds them

1:56 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Babe Hardy added so much to these - and the Larry Semon series. Not only was he a great foil onscreen, but his participation is probably one more reason why prints have survived!

3:21 PM  
Blogger rnigma said...

Chaplin, ever the perfectionist, took his time making his films, so to satisfy moviegoers waiting for Charlie's next opus, West stepped into the breach with his faux-Chaplin films, as did Harold Lloyd with "Lonesome Luke."

5:44 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Michael Hayde, noted author of the recent book, "Chaplin's Vintage Year," shares some observations re Billy West:


rnigma makes the same point that I did in a "Chaplinitis" presentation I gave at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention last month. West was indeed filling a void. Moreover, there was never any attempt to convince audiences that they were watching Chaplin. West's name is all over the text titles of his Bulls Eye comedies, and once he developed his own following, he gradually moved away from outright imitation.

It's significant that Chaplin never sued West. It took an impersonator named Charles Amador, who took the screen name "Charlie Aplin" to prompt Chaplin to legal action.

Michael

10:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016