Near broke, but no tramp : Billie Ritchie, Charlie Chaplin and 'that costume'
Burrows, Jon. (2010) Near broke, but no tramp : Billie Ritchie, Charlie Chaplin and 'that costume'. Early Popular Visual Culture, 8 (3). pp. 247-262. ISSN 1746-0654Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17460654.2010.498162
This article revisits the various claims and counter-claims that have been made over the years as to whether the 1910s music hall comedian turned slapstick film star Billie Ritchie stole his costume and comic persona from Charlie Chaplin, or was himself the victim of plagiarism on Chaplin's part. It proposes that neither of these arguments can be definitively supported on the basis of evidence available in the public domain, but also draws attention to the fact that there are other factors in play that may plausibly explain the various similarities between the two comedians as the result of shared formative influences rather than outright imitation, and that some contemporaries deemed it eminently reasonable to take such a view. The article moves on to consider the significance of the fact that, although their costumes were practically identical, Ritchie typically played dissolute gentlemen of ambiguous class status rather than tramps. It concludes that there is a stronger argument to be made that, rather than seeking to represent vagrancy, both Chaplin and Ritchie originally used the iconic 'tramp' costume to poke fun at the culturally ubiquitous Edwardian figure of the 'masher' - a lower-middle- or working-class male pleasure-seeker trying (and in their incarnations, failing) to emulate the fashions of his social superiors.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures|
|Divisions:||Faculty of Arts > Film and Television Studies|
|Journal or Publication Title:||Early Popular Visual Culture|
|Publisher:||Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis Ltd.|
|Number of Pages:||16|
|Page Range:||pp. 247-262|
|Access rights to Published version:||Restricted or Subscription Access|
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