An orphan escapes immigration officials at Ellis Island and goes to live with an old ship's master who can't find work and can't pay the rent.

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Jackie Blair
Claude Gillingwater ...
Captain Bill
Mathilde Brundage ...
Patsy Marks ...
Little Girl
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Storyline

Jackie Blair's father was killed in France. His mother died traveling in steerage. This leaves little Jackie Blair alone when he appears at Ellis Island, and the immigration officials want to send him right back. Captain Bill appears on the scene asking for a job - but he's too old and no one wants him. He sees lonely little Jackie, pities him and asks the eight Pinkosuwitz children to include him in their games. Thus, the Captain unwittingly engineers Jackie's escape. The orphan is mixed in with the Pinkosuwitzes when they leave the immigration building. When they find they've gained a ninth child, they send him on his way. This leaves Jackie to follow Captain Bill back to his very modest home - for which the old salt is unable to pay the rent. Jackie tries to make himself useful. He even sings and dances with an organ grinder to make money for the Captain's medicine. Little does either guess that Jackie's wealthy grandmother has everyone in immigration looking for the boy. When ... Written by J. Spurlin

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Comedy | Drama

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December 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Miudinho no Asilo  »

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1.33 : 1
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This film is on the second disc in the 2-Disc Chaplin Collection DVD for The Kid (1921), released in 2004 by Warner Brothers. See more »

Quotes

[first title card]
Title Card: Midway between the immeasurable distance from horizon to horizon, but nearing the coveted shore - America!
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User Reviews

 
Jackie Coogan Cleans Up
19 May 2008 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Five-year-old orphan Jackie Coogan (as Jackie Blair, "The Boy") arrives at New York's Ellis Island; his father was killed in France, and his mother passed away during the voyage. United States immigration officials want to take him back, but young Coogan thwarts fate by slipping through with a family of eight. With no place to go (but with cuteness to spare), Coogan tags along with grumpy old man Claude Gillingwater (as Bill Hicks, "The Captain"). Desperate for lodgings, Coogan seeks to make himself useful to crusty Gillingwater; and, his growing fondness for the boy makes increasingly difficult for Gillingwater to throw Coogan out.

Coogan's late 1921 follow-up to earlier-in-the-year hits "The Kid" and "Peck's Bad Boy" owes much to the former (Charlie Chaplin) film. Still, "My Boy" does rate very highly on its own. First of all, Coogan is, by now, obviously a remarkable young actor. Suspicions about the five-year-old's performances owing everything to "Kid's" Chaplin and "Peck's" Sam Wood are laid firmly to rest. Coogan proves himself, herein directed by Victor Heerman and Albert Austin, an actor to be reckoned with.

Coogan's characterization is incredibly natural, under the circumstances. He steers clear of the tendency to become mawkishly cloying -- the road, unfortunately, taken by many a "child star". At this point in his career, the credit must be given to Coogan's camp (perhaps, the boy and his father). "My Boy" solidified Coogan as a box office super-star. Gillingwater and Mathilde Brundage (as Mrs. J. Montague Blair, "The Grandmother") provide fine support.

There are (at least) two absolutely indispensable film sequences to watch for, in "My Boy": The first is when Coogan gives himself a bath and shower; his performance is wonderful. The second is when Coogan runs away from a party, after being accused of stealing a lady's purse; the resulting cinematic poetry might have left Chaplin feeling envious. Coogan dancing to an organ-grinder's beat is almost as indelible.

"My Boy" features one of the most endearing child performers in one of his best roles.

********* My Boy (1921) Victor Heerman, Albert Austin ~ Jackie Coogan, Claude Gillingwater, Mathilde Brundage


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