The Millionaire (1917)

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Billy West was the best Charles Chaplin impersonator of the 1910s. Sometimes his films were clearly based on a specific Chaplin picture; other times -- like in this particular two-reel comedy -- there was little plot to be had, and the film consisted mainly of Chaplin-type gags. One of the prominent players in West's films while he was working for the studio King Bee was Oliver Hardy, who was ten years away from teaming up with Stan Laurel. Hardy performs in drag, as West's mother-in-law, in this entry. West plays a millionaire who becomes a blackmail victim. Ethel (Ethel Burton) is a swindler trying to weasel some money out of him. Coincidentally, Billy's ward, Daisy, is supposed to arrive for a visit, so when Billy's mother-in-law catches him with Ethel, he passes her off as Daisy. Eventually the real Daisy shows up and Billy frantically tries to hide her. Daisy dresses up as a boy so she can sneak around and discover what's going on. When the mother-in-law finds Billy entertaining a "boy," she believes her son-in-law has gone mad. A pair of asylum attendants arrive and there's a struggle before everything gets explained.