A Ready-Made Maid

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This film was made in Atlantic City and Betzwood shortly after Lubin closed his Jacksonville, Florida, comedy studio in order to save money. Billie Reeves got his start on the vaudeville stage in Fred Karno’s “Night In An English Music Hall,” the same company that launched the career of Charlie Chaplin. In fact Reeves originated the “drunken swell” routine that Chaplin eventually took over with great success at the Karno company. Fred Karno apparently had a knack for finding talent. Working along side Chaplin in London was a very young Stan Laurel. Lubin tried to capitalize on Reeves’s origins by advertising  him as “The Original Drunk” and even “the Third Chaplin.”

Billie Reeves in character

In his film work Reeves utilized some of the same “Music Hall” devices and themes that Chaplin also drew upon in his early films—rude behavior, drunkenness, and broad slapstick humor.  Some might say that any comparison with his more famous colleagues is likely to be unfavorable. But Billie Reeves proved to be a very popular Lubin star for two years.  In A Ready-Made Maid, Billie portrays a tramp impersonating a house maid  (the homeliest and most incompetent ever) and offers a typical sample of his work for Lubin.

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4 thoughts on “A Ready-Made Maid

  1. Thank you for posting the video. I had never seen Billie Ritchie before.
    I shouldn’t judge from just one film, but Ritchie does not seem to really connect with the cinema audience. The material is amusing, but it seems to be a music hall sketch. There is nothing subtle about it.
    I think a couple of minutes of seeing the tramp side of the character would have made the movie a lot better.

    • jeckhard

      Thanks for dropping by. As noted in our write up about this film, Billie Reeves (not Richie) did come directly from Music Hall entertainment to the cinema, and like Chaplin, he drew upon his previous stage work for inspiration in his films. You’re right, he’s anything but subtle! Reeves did gave his tramp persona a little more screen time in some of his other films. The film he made for Lubin at the Jacksonville studio, A Day On The Force, revolves around the adventures of his tramp character wandering around town getting into trouble.

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