Movie Name: The Kid
Studio: Charles Chaplin Productions
Release Date(s): January 21, 1921 (Premiere)/February 6, 1921 (US)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
A destitute, unwed mother (Edna Purviance) finds she cannot raise her baby. Leaving him in the car of a wealthy family, the car is stolen leading the baby to be found by a tramp (Charlie Chaplin) with little money himself. Taking John under his wing, the tramp raises John from infancy and grows to love him. When the authorities threaten to take John (Jackie Coogan), the tramp goes on the run to protect him…but John’s past could return to intervene.
Written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, The Kid is widely considered one of the best films of the silent era. The movie is critically acclaimed and was a big draw at the box office. The Kid was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
I sometimes have a hard time with silent pictures. It isn’t the reading but the fact that the reading interferes with the flow of the movie or the stills are up too long to enjoy the film. The Kid is a great silent picture that gets the balance write through expressive actions and less “dialogue”.
The story is rather touching. It is about down-on-their luck people making connections and overcoming adversity . The movie is also considered one of the first comedy-drama films by really emphasizing the relationship between Chaplin and his adopted child. The movie is short and simple and an easy film to pick up.
Chaplin is at his best, and he is able to really tell the story without words. This performance doesn’t feel like he’s performing as much as some of his other roles and his interaction with Coogan is also great (some attribute the connection between the two to the loss of an infant son in 1919). Coogan (who later went on to be Uncle Fester on The Addams Family) also shows skills as a child actor. His child work led to famous legislation the “Coogan Act” which took his parents to court due to his parents abuse of his childhood earnings.
Chaplin shows both his skills as an actor and director in shooting of the movie. The film is shot to perfection and looks great in modern transfers. In addition to the nice environment created by Chaplin for The Tramp, you get the amusing “perfect” world where the Tramp dreams of a heavenly world…it is a nice contrast to the dreary world that the people inhabit.
The Kid is a must for fans of film. Though it is a silent picture, it can be enjoyed by the family and even younger children can watch it and understand the emotions and story presented. It is also nice to see a film of this age so nicely preserved and makes you wish that more films had been so carefully tended to as time passed. The Kid holds up and is worth seeking out.