The Kid (1921)
Release Year: 1921
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Writer: Charlie Chaplin
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Jackie Coogan, Carl Miller, Albert Austin, Nellie Bly Baker
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #319, week 31 2020
The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) finds an orphan boy and cares for him, but events five years later threatens that relationship.
Chaplin’s impact on cinema is hard to ignore and his classic 1921 silent film The Kid in many ways showcases his brilliance. The Kid is the first feature length film directed by Chaplin and proof that his lovable Tramp character had much more in him than what he could do within the scope of a short film. The storyline is at turns funny, dramatic, endearing, and touching, and Chaplin’s Tramp is the perfect combination of pitch perfect slapstick comedy and heart-wrenching pathos. Take for example the very funny fight scene and contrast it with one of the many moving scenes between the Tramp and his young protegé, the titular kid. Chaplin (Modern TImes, 1936) is great both as a performer and a director and tops it off with a great musical score as well. But other players impress as well, especially the young Jackie Coogan as the kid (Oliver Twist, 1922) in a truly great child performance. As funny and endearing as the day it was released, The Kid is a wonderful place to start if you have never seen a silent film. Trust me, you won’t be bored! Highly recommended.
The off-screen relationship between Chaplin and young Coogan was just as close as the one on screen. On weekends Chaplin would even take the young actor for pony rides and to amusement parks. The two met for the last time in 1972 during Chaplin’s brief return to America to receive his honourary Academy Award.
The portrayals of poverty in the film, as well as the cruelty of welfare workers, is reminiscent of Chaplin’s own poverty-stricken childhood in late Victorian London.
The main theme of Chaplin’s musical score for the film is based on Tchaikonsky’s 6th symphony.