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The Kid (1921)

8.4
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 41,153 users  
Reviews: 85 user | 55 critic

The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy.

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(as Charlie Chaplin)

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Title: The Kid (1921)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Carl Miller ...
The Man
...
The Woman
...
The Child (as Jack Coogan)
...
A Tramp (as Charlie Chaplin)
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Storyline

The opening title reads: "A comedy with a smile--and perhaps a tear". As she leaves the charity hospital and passes a church wedding, Edna deposits her new baby with a pleading note in a limousine and goes off to commit suicide. The limo is stolen by thieves who dump the baby by a garbage can. Charlie the Tramp finds the baby and makes a home for him. Five years later Edna has become an opera star but does charity work for slum youngsters in hope of finding her boy. A doctor called by Edna discovers the note with the truth about the Kid and reports it to the authorities who come to take him away from Charlie. Before he arrives at the Orphan Asylum Charlie steals him back and takes him to a flophouse. The proprietor reads of a reward for the Kid and takes him to Edna. Charlie is later awakened by a kind policeman who reunites him with the Kid at Edna's mansion. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

6 reels of Joy. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Family

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 February 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Kid  »

Box Office

Budget:

$250,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$2,500,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1971 edit with new Chaplin score)

Sound Mix:

(new music score) (1971)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For the scene in which the Kid is taken from the Tramp and nearly carted away to a workhouse, Charles Chaplin stated in his autobiography that the young Jackie Coogan was made to cry by his father, who told him that if he would not cry in the scene, he would be sent to an actual workhouse. See more »

Goofs

When both the Tramp and the kid are chased by the policeman, the kid loses his cap which falls to the ground in the yard before he could enter in his home. Still, when he is seen inside, he has got his cap back upon his head. See more »

Connections

Featured in Making Life Beautiful (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Chaplin understands how close slapstick is to pathos in this classic tearjerking comedy; and remember: kids love this movie
4 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I've always thought there's a great beauty and poignancy to the best slapstick comedies, even unsentimental ones like Keaton's "The General" or Laurel and Hardy's "Way Out West." The latter comedy has a scene where L&H perform a soft-shoe dance; it always brings me to tears. Why? Maybe physical comedy has the same kind of effect on me as a dance performance. Both art forms are very expressive; the fact that I'm laughing doesn't dilute the emotional charge.

One of many things that made Chaplin a genius was his understanding of how close slapstick is to pathos already. Why not marry the two things? That's what he did in some of his early short films, and that's what he does in this feature comedy. The Little Tramp finds an abandoned baby and raises him into boyhood. But the authorities find out and want to take little Jackie (Jackie Coogan) away. Meanwhile, the mother who abandoned him has since become a wealthy singer and doesn't know if she'll ever find out what became of him.

Jackie Coogan (about five in this film), with his charming manners, his talents as a mimic and his adeptness at physical comedy, is one of the all-time great child actors. Want more evidence of Chaplin's genius? Coogan doesn't steal the film from him. This is true even though Chaplin, as producer, star and director, makes every evident attempt to spotlight the boy's talents. Coogan is even better here than he is in his own vehicles, like "My Boy" and "Oliver Twist."

Chaplin's storytelling—even with the foolish sub-Dickensian plot twists, such as Jackie suddenly taking ill—deftly draws out the comedy and pathos for maximum effect. The individual scenes themselves are flawlessly constructed. The window-breaking scene, the flophouse scene, the dream sequence, the trying-to-get-rid-of-the-baby scene—they're perfect. Chaplin's celebrated pantomimic skills are examples of storytelling in themselves.

Want me to criticize something? How about those thudding attempts to link the mother with Jesus? But you know, I can't even complain about that. It's too sweetly naïve. And the movie as a whole is too good to allow us to sneer at the (very) few flaws.

One important note: children love this movie. Show it to them while they're young, and you'll make Chaplin fans of them. And that's better than their becoming fans of almost anything that's being peddled to them.


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