In The Villain, Billy attempted something a little different. He’s still imitating Chaplin, but this time he’s playing the wicked, top-hatted Charlie found in some of his earliest Keystone appearances (e.g. Mabel at the Wheel), the ones where Charlie himself seemed to be imitating the studio’s recently departed Ford Sterling. Throughout this short there is much spoofing of old-time melodramas, a frequent motif of Sterling’s comedies.
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‘The Rogue’ casts West as the slavey in a boarding-house (not a very Chaplinesque role) overseen by a landlady who seems to be a cross between Alice Davenport and Marie Dressler, with a dash of Hattie Jacques. He crosses paths with a counterfeit count (White) and a stolen violin worth $20,000.
Billy is a hobo who hangs around the train station. He creates disruption in the ticket office, at the lunch counter, and in the lives of some of the customers.
The film opens in the lobby of a small hotel, where the desk clerk/owner (Budd Ross) is addressing three members of staff: the cook, the waiter and the bellboy. It is obvious from their reactions, particularly the cook (Leo White) that whatever was said did not go down too well. His animated arms knock down the man standing behind him repeatedly until all three servants simultaneously quit. They storm off into the adjoining kitchen where […]
Imagine this, and you are in the world of Billy West, who looks like Chaplin, and acts something like Chaplin, but does not think like him, or come close to moving like him. In this film, West escapes a couple of cops, and fights for the Mabel Normand imitation with Oliver Hardy (who in this film is an Eric Campbell imitation). The dynamic between West in Hardy is more Popeye and Bluto (without the funny […]
A bumbling janitor in a fleabag hotel drives the residents crazy, and a poor artist believes that his girlfriend is having an affair with a wealthy artist living across the hall, and takes unorthodox measures to find out what’s going on.