Six Reels of Joy: Close-Up on Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid"

  • MUBI
Given the film's title, it's strangely fitting that Charlie Chaplin's The Kid feels like a little brother to its larger, more canonized siblings. Spared the towering masterpiece burden that accompanies a film like Modern Times, it contains none of Chaplin's most iconic and oft-referenced routines, and in the perennial game of voting for the Greatest Films of All Time, it's rarely chosen to represent him (not when The Gold Rush and City Lights are in the running). But it remains one of his very best and funniest films, a worldwide smash in 1921 and irresistible to this day. It is also a pivotal moment in his filmography: clocking in at an hour, it was the longest film to date from a performer known for two-reel shorts, and with the opening title card—"a smile, and perhaps a tear"—it explicitly announced Chaplin's desire for something more than comedy.
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