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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A mostly-silent film in black and white

Author: David Hoffman from Virginia
16 March 2001

Our protagonist is resourceful, tenderhearted, homeless. He finds himself with a baby, someone else's, and suddenly his life shifts focus. The child, thankfully, does not redeem the main character whose actions are a natural extension of who he is-a nameless person. Without home and name doesn't mean without personality, and a life, and the instinct for survival. The main character suddenly has to be concerned for someone other than himself, and this is the charm of the film, charm without sentimentality.

This is an intriguing contrast of the humorous set against the plight of the homeless in NYC; it works, partly because it is so outrageous and comic in its implementation-e.g. the conflict with the other street artist, the use of the bathtub. A gentle, good film whose final moments still resonate in the mind, not because of their greatness, but because of the unexpected but successful shift in focus and technique. It achieves.

Charles Lane as writer, director, and main character has done a very fine job in three areas, none suffering because of the others.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Actually...not a bad movie....

Author: tmpj from Chicago IL
10 September 2007

I saw this film a number of years back---circa 1990---on PBS. It got ONE airing...and I never saw it again. I had even forgotten the title...until I ran across it by accident.

Charles Lane pays homage---in a manner of speaking---to way of default. This was a period when Blacks were still struggling to get any film made...and struggling to have films released. Lane ran out of dollars, evidenced by some few moments of sound.

But he manages to salvage the film in the style of the "ol' time flickers". This film is more a commentary on the times, than an homage to any particular screen idol of the past. Homelessness and poverty are its main themes, and the struggle to survive is intensified when the hero takes on the added responsibility of caring for a child whose parent has gone down in an "unfortunate happenstance".

The acting is natural, not campy, and there are a few "hot scenes". But, all in all the film is a good watch, rather touching at points, filled with 'Chaplin-esque' pathos (a la "The Kid"...but it doesn't get quite that intensely mushy). However, the closing scene is pretty intense, and reveals a bit of the pain, misery and suffering all too pervasive during that time---all in the name of greed--and much of which remains with us to this day.

Charles Lane needs to make other films, and he needs to put this one back into circulation--it merits an across the board viewing. This one is a stand alone of the genre of Black films and, though it had nothing even close to the budget of Mel Brook's "Silent Movie", its point are well taken. It is a movie that you will enjoy...and I would caution having the kids watch due to some sexual situations and a little violence. But enjoy. I don't know if this film is back in circulation---I understand it has been out of circulation for some time...but I would not mind coming into possession of a copy.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

An homage to Chaplin with a message.

Author: harpo-25 from Baltimore, Maryland
14 November 2000

Lane's Sidewalk Stories is a unique homage to Chaplin, with a social message dealing with the stereotype of the homeless. Lane uses the character of the Tramp for comedy but also as a literal representation of a homeless man without being overly sentimental or heavy handed.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Brief, Rare Revival Of The Silent Film Genre In A More Modern Era.

Author: Dawalk-1 from Hialeah, Florida
13 September 2012

I have known about and been wanting to see this gem ever since I looked at various movie sites that mentioned it over a decade ago. I read about it and the details concerning this made me interested in it and wanted so badly to see it. Another reviewer of this on here typed that he caught it on PBS and aired on that channel, let alone any other, only once and for some dumb, jacked-up reason, I know that it was released on VHS in Germany, but never in the U.S. and to date, it still hasn't been brought to DVD either. And since learning about the Youtube site that was founded and established a few years back, I kept checking back the search engine on the site to see if anyone posted it on there. Every time I did, there was no copy uploaded unfortunately. That is until a few months ago. I found it after searching once again on there a couple months after it was posted (which took long enough) and it's about time. Finally, at last. I thought I was never going to get to see it, since it's been so difficult to find a copy of the full movie online (although prior to that, I came across a clip of the feature on the same video site). Following watching it for the first time, I got to say I loved and enjoyed it a lot, just as I thought and knew I would.

Although Mr. Lane had already made a short film prior to this one over a decade earlier called A Place in Time as a film school project and assignment, this obscure, full-length, follow-up may be the better known for the two and for which he's best renowned. This must be the only, old-timey, black and white, (mostly) silent film shot in the second half of the 20th century (or at least, the only one that I know of anyway), because I haven't discovered any others. And if there really aren't, that's disappointing, because I'd love to see more filmmakers do something like this and again. Anyway, this movie is a throwback to the pre-colorized, pre-talkie kind of flicks. Lane's character, The Artist, is truly Chaplin's The Tramp-inspired and he captures that inspiration well. The Artist's life change when he happens to come across witnessing a robbery one night and a man is murdered, leaving his baby daughter (who happens to be Lane's real life daughter) an orphan. The Artist takes it upon himself to be her temporary guardian. We follow the adventures and misadventures they have as they journey around Greenwich Village, New York until he finds the mother and reunites the baby with her. The soundtrack in this is just as great. Early on, this takes a look at the wide array of denizens who live on the streets, but that situation isn't quite the made focus. If none of y'all who may be reading my review have ever seen a b&w, silent flick, then I advise y'all to do so. I know it captivated me the first time I saw it instantly. I hope someone else will do something like this in the future and I'd look forward to it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

a brave attempt, but with mixed results

Author: Michael Neumann from United States
3 January 2011

It takes a lot of nerve to update a classic silent comedy, and do it again as a silent film, but that's the idea behind this Reagan-era remake of the 1921 Chaplin comedy 'The Kid'. Writer/producer/director Charles Lane himself takes the Little Tramp role, playing a homeless New York City street artist who reluctantly adopts an abandoned toddler (in real life Lane's own daughter). Both have big shoes to fill, Lane most of all because, unlike Chaplin, he isn't exactly a creative genius, and his attempts at visual comedy are never more than mildly amusing, at best.

But silence is golden, and more to the point for a struggling independent filmmaker, it can be economical as well. By muting the voices on screen Lane succeeds in muting the harsh impact of poverty, bringing some charm to what could have been a merely depressing backdrop. So why introduce the panhandler's begging voices in the final scene, when their faces alone would have been eloquent enough? It amounts to thematic overkill in an otherwise engaging novelty (if not much else), with a likable underdog as its director and star.

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