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Cupid's Rival (1917) More at IMDbPro »


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Release Date:
1 July 1917 (USA) See more »
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. | Add synopsis »
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Accept no imitations. See more (3 total) »


  (in credits order)
Billy West ... Janitor
Mary Ross ... Janitor's wife (as Mary Taylor)

Oliver Hardy ... Poor Artist (as Babe Hardy)
Ethel Marie Burton ... Poor Artists' Sweetheart (as Ethel Burton)
Leo White ... Rich Artist
Bud Ross ... Bell Boy (as Budd Ross)
Ethelyn Gibson ... A Model (as Ethlyn Gibson)
Joe Cohen ... Landlord
Florence McLaughlin ... Dancer (as Florence McLoughlin)

Directed by
Arvid E. Gillstrom 
Produced by
Louis Burstein .... producer
Cinematography by
Herman Obrock Jr. 
Film Editing by
Ben H. Cohen 

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Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
Accept no imitations., 27 October 2004
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales

At the peak of his career, Charlie Chaplin's films were so hugely popular (and profitable) that a whole legion of lesser film comedians were imitating him. A few comedians took the gambit of performing Chaplinesque antics while at least maintaining some originality of appearance. The best and best-known example of this was Harold Lloyd's screen character Lonesome Luke, who was specifically created as a Chaplin imitation that wouldn't LOOK a Chaplin imitation. Chaplin's tramp wore too-large clothes, and had a mustache that consisted of one little dot ... so Lloyd's character Lonesome Luke wore too-tight clothes, and had a mustache made of TWO little dots.

However, quite a few film comedians (including at least one woman), took the audacious step of blatantly impersonating Chaplin's tramp, turning out counterfeit 'Charlies' that looked much like the original, even if they were less imaginative. The most successful (and most talented) of the faux Chaplins was Billy West, who mimicked Chaplin so conscientiously that he even slept with his hair in curlers to more closely resemble the genuine article. Reportedly, Chaplin himself (who did NOT look like the Tramp offscreen) once chanced upon Billy West's crew while they were filming one of their fake Chaplin shorts. Chaplin watched his imitator, then told him: 'You're a damned good imitation, but that's all you are.'

Unlike several other fake Charlies, the Billy West films are quite funny, and so close to the genuine article in appearance that viewers can be forgiven for mistaking them for actual Chaplin shorts. Indeed, one of Billy West's supporting stooges in these films was Leo White, who had been second-banana in several Chaplin shorts at Mutual and First National. An easy way to spot a Billy West film is that his fake Chaplin movies often prominently feature Oliver Hardy: pre-Laurel, and without his mustache, but clearly recognisable. Hardy never worked with the real Chaplin (which helps establish these 'Tramp' movies as imitations), but in the Billy West movies Hardy fulfils the same function of heavy-set menace that was supplied in Chaplin's movies by Mack Swain and Eric Campbell.

'Cupid's Rival' stars Billy West as Chaplin's tramp character, working as the porter in a fleabag hotel. One of the boarders is Oliver Hardy, as a struggling artist whose penury has brought him beyond the brink of hunger. (Though you wouldn't know it from his waistline.) Ethel Burton is ostensibly Hardy's girlfriend, but a rival artist across the hall wants her to pose for him ... and we all know what *that* can lead to. The jealous Hardy disguises himself as a woman(!) to spy on Ethel. I'm not sure if you want to see Oliver Hardy in drag. Meanwhile, the counterfeit Little Tramp stirs up trouble for all, and the movie climaxes in a Mack Sennett-style chase (a device which the real Chaplin had long since abandoned at this point).

'Cupid's Rival' is so well done that it could pass as a real Chaplin short. The bad news is that, if this were a genuine Charlie, it would be one of Charlie's *least* funny short comedies: more on the level of 'Tango Tangles' than 'The Adventurer'. Still, it's a good example of Billy West's work, and Hardy's. I'll rate 'Cupid's Rival' 5 out of 10.

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