The Kid (1921) Poster

(1921)

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A Must-See Silent Comedy
Snow Leopard4 March 2002
While perhaps not as celebrated now as some of Chaplin's later features, "The Kid" is an excellent achievement and a thoroughly enjoyable film. Charlie and young Jackie Coogan make an entertaining and unforgettable pair, and there is a lot of good slapstick plus a story that moves quickly and makes you want to know what will happen. Chaplin also wrote a particularly good score for this one, and most of the time the music sets off the action very nicely.

While it's a fairly simple story, this is one of Chaplin's most efficiently designed movies. Every scene either is necessary to the plot, or is very funny for its own sake, or both. Except for Chaplin and Coogan, most of the other characters (even frequent Chaplin leading lady Edna Purviance) are just there to advance the plot when needed, and the two leads are allowed to carry the show, which they both do extremely well.

"The Kid" is also impressive in that, while the story is a sentimental one, it strikes an ideal balance, maintaining sympathy for the characters while never overdoing it with the pathos, which Chaplin occasionally lapsed into even in some of his greatest movies. Here, the careful balance makes the few moments of real emotion all the more effective and memorable.

This is one of Chaplin's very best movies by any measure. If you enjoy silent comedies, don't miss it.
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Chaplin understands how close slapstick is to pathos in this classic tearjerking comedy; and remember: kids love this movie
J. Spurlin4 March 2007
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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9/10
One Of The Most Memorable Silent Films Ever
ccthemovieman-124 November 2005
Wow, is this a memorable film! It is one of the most famous silent movies ever and justifiably so. That fact that it still entertains over 80 years after it was made is quite a testimony.

It is a wonderful blend of humor and drama. Charlie Chaplin's unique humor, combined with an involving storyline and strong sentimentality make this one to remember. Chaplin's humor ranges from pure slapstick to some clever stunts.

The "kid" - Jackie Coogan - is just as memorable, maybe even more so. He is unbelievably cute, especially in those old-time clothes he wore. Watching the expressions on his face, even as a baby, are fascinating and facial expressions certainly were a trademark of the silent era.

So, between Chaplin and Coogan, and a very involving story that can break your heart one minute and have you laughing out loud the next, it's an amazing piece of work. This is a very fast-paced story which lasts less than an hour.

The special edition two-disc DVD has a restored version of the print so the picture is very clear, actually astounding for its age. Excellent entertainment.
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10/10
Charlie Finds a Son
lugonian22 October 2004
THE KID (First National Pictures, 1921), a comedy-drama written, directed and starring Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), plays an important part his screen career. Aside from Chaplin cast opposite Marie Dressler in TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE (1914), a Mack Sennett production hailed as the first feature length comedy, THE KID starts Chaplin with a whole new cycle of feature comedies, but releases coming once every two to three years. A comic genius who got his start in comedy shorts starting in 1914, eventually under the supervision and direction of himself, Chaplin's methods in movie making improved with each passing film. Like himself, Jackie Coogan, Chaplin's littlest co-star and title character, made such an impression with his initial performance, nearly upstaging his impresario, that he immediately found himself starring in movies on his own, becoming Hollywood's first important child star.

THE KID starts off with inter-titles, "A picture with a smile and perhaps a tear," followed by "The woman whose sin was motherhood," titles much to the liking of a D.W. Griffith directorial tearjerker starring Lillian Gish, yet, in fact, might have seemed more logical for a Griffith film than Chaplin's, whose very name personifies comedy. A young girl (Edna Purviance) leaves a charity hospital with a baby in her arms. who turns out to be an unwed mother whose father (Carl Miller), a young artist, never returns to her life. The mother places her baby in the back of a limousine and walks away. Crooks enter the scene, stealing the car, discover the baby and place it in a trash bin in the poor district of town. Noticing the infant wrapped in a blanket, Charlie tries to pass it off to someone else, but after stumbling upon a note which reads, "Please love and care for this orphan child," he decides to raise the child himself. Five years pass. The kid (whose name is believed to be John), now Charlie's adopted son and sidekick, start off each day with brand new adventures in raising money. As for the kid's mother, she's become "a star of great prominence," devoting her spare time with charitable work handing out gifts to the children of poor districts, where lives the kid. The paths of the kid and his mother meet on numerous occasions, unaware of each other's identities. When the kid becomes seriously ill and in need of immediate medical attention, a middle-aged country doctor, having discovered Charlie not the boy's true father, sends for the authorities from the County Orphan Asylum to take the child away.

THE KID consists of many ingredients to make this an everlasting product, especially for a silent movie made so long ago. Chaplin, who constructs his gags to perfection, has one difficult scene that comes off naturally, this being where Charlie cuts out diapers from a sheet for the infant as he's lying beside him in a miniature hammock crying out for his milk. The baby immediately stops after Charlie directs the nipple attached to a coffee pot (a substitute for a baby bottle) back into his mouth. Another classic moment, on a serious nature, is when Charlie is being held back by authorities, being forced to watch his crying "son" taken away from him. Charlie breaks away and goes after the truck as he's being chased by a policeman from the slanted roof-tops. The close-up where father and son tearful reunite is as touching as anything ever captured on film.

Chaplin and little Jackie (billed Jack Coogan in the opening credits) display their talents as both funny characters and dramatic actors. Little Jackie is especially cute as a miniature sized Chaplin, right down to his baggy pants. Chaplin giving one of his most sensitive performances, is so convincing that it doesn't take away his screen persona as the lovable funny tramp. From this point onward, he would become less characteristic as a slapstick comedian and more agreeable as an serious actor, at the same time, adding more plot, pathos and truly great comedy routines.

As much as the present showing of THE KID barely reaches the one hour mark, Chaplin includes enough gags and pathos to make it work. The dream sequence where he finds himself in Heaven surrounded by angels might appear trite and unnecessary for some, but actually makes it essential to the plot which fits into the scene that follows.

THE KID, which had been unavailable for public viewing for many years, was resurrected in the 1970s in revival movie houses with a brand new and wonderful orchestral score conducted by Chaplin himself in 1971. It would be nearly another decade for many to fully get to see and appreciate this little masterpiece when distributed to video cassette in 1989 as part of the Charlie Chaplin centennial collection, double billed along with a comedy short, THE IDLE CLASS (1921). In the DVD format, the two disc set includes rare out-takes and deleted scenes. Turner Classic Movies has brought forth THE KID as part of its movie library, where it made its debut December 15, 2003, during its weekly Silent Sunday Nights, hosted by Robert Osborne, and later in March 2004 when Charlie Chaplin was selected as its "Star of the Month."

For its age, THE KID holds up extremely well, thanks to the convincing performances of both Chaplin and Coogan. There's no doubt Jackie Coogan (1914-1984) became an overnight star with this one film. He was a natural. While the paths of Chaplin and Coogan would never meet again, on screen anyway, without them, there would never have been such a true classic from the silent screen era as THE KID. (****)
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9/10
Smiling and Tearing
Cineanalyst29 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"The Kid" is a powerfully emotional and wonderfully hilarious motion picture and was a tremendous breakthrough in Charlie Chaplin's oeuvre. Chaplin hadn't filled a film so fully with pathos since "The Vagabond" (1916), and then it was in a very limited way, subject to the confines of two-reel length. Additionally, "Sunnyside" (1919) was a failure. The feature length of "The Kid" also allows Chaplin to elaborate and refine the gags, pranks and set pieces, and with the support of Jackie Coogan, it's one of his funniest comedies.

The parent-child relationship has proved potential as sentimental entertainment, and, for me, not many have neared Chaplin in exploiting that formula in "The Kid". The sequence where they take the kid, for a workhouse, away from the tramp is probably the most powerful and endearing tearjerker moment in the film--or of all film. In addition to Chaplin and Coogan, Edna Purviance is also quite effective in the dramatic side of the picture. Furthermore, Chaplin and cinematographer Roland Totheroh's photography had by then improved vastly over their work at Mutual, and Chaplin was already an eccentric perfectionist, but the musical score added to the 1971 release, composed by Chaplin, taken from Tchaikovsky, gives the sentimental parts its most verve.

Of the slapstick, one of my favorite scenes involves the tramp in fear of a bully. It's reminiscent of his Mutual short "Easy Street" (1917), which is made especially clear when the bully bends a lamppost with one punch. There are many other great moments of humorous pantomime and farce in this film. Yet, "The Kid" is much more than that, which makes it such a breakthrough; the slapstick fills the plot, and there is more of a developed plot here than in Chaplin's previous work. This was the beginning of the tramp as the sympathetic, pitiful hero, as well as clown, that's so recognizable and beloved to this day.

Moreover, the dream sequence is an ingenious plot device; it adds dimensionally to the narrative and asserts its themes while delaying the inevitable conclusion of the outer narrative to poignant effect. It's also funny in a silly way. It's somewhat analogous to the outer reality story, although with much ambiguity. I wasn't always sure Chaplin was making any clear point, such as with the Christ image earlier in the film, but that seems unimportant; "The Kid" affects the emotions and isn't especially aimed at engaging the mind. At six reels, with more sets and a developed plot, this film was already an expansion compared to Chaplin's previous films; the dream sequence satisfyingly expands the narrative depth, thus making "The Kid" Chaplin's first complete feature.
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10/10
There are no words to phraise this movie enough
talking_tree13 January 2003
It is hard to find such delightful and adorable movies these days as "The Kid". It is a silent movie but so rich, winning and beautiful that you don´t nead words. Chaplin and 6-year old Coogan are possibly the most charming pair I have ever seen in my life. The film succees to be nicely light and full of joy but also overwhelmingly sad and sentimental. I always get my eyes full with tears of saddness and happiness. And I really never cry in movies. And the music...its simply Oscar-level! The movie is sympathetic, full of feeling, touchingly funny moments. It is truly a masterpiece showing how extraordinary talented person Charlie Chaplin was considering this film is respectively over 80 years old! So don´t you miss it because of it´s age, don´t miss it.
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8/10
A picture with laughter and a few tears, indeed.
bobsgrock1 January 2010
Charlie Chaplin was perhaps the most innovative auteur of the silent era and certainly the most famous. His character, the Tramp, is now a cultural icon and will forever be a symbol of poverty and travesty that was American society in the early 20th century, but something all of us can overcome.

In one of his first roles with this character, he played opposite a very young Jackie Coogan, who would go on to play Uncle Fester in the cult TV series The Addams Family. Taking himself and this very talented young boy, Chaplin made a masterwork; one that he truly could call his own as he wrote, directed, starred in and composed the score for this film.

Here, Chaplin feeds to one of the most basic of all human desires: to care for a child and be needed and loved by one another. The Tramp finds an abandoned baby in an alley and in order to not be caught by a policeman he takes the child in as his own. He hasn't got much but he does have love, which is more than can be said for the child's mother.

Flash forward five years, and now the mother wants her son back. Circumstances arise and soon the Tramp is fighting for the right to keep his little companion. Even so, the story is thin but I believe Chaplin was going for something more deep and meaningful. This also gave him a chance to work on some different visual styles and comedic gimmicks, things not used much at the time in the movies. Using these little tricks and ideas, Chaplin creates a real persona not just for himself but also the supporting cast and involving us in the story.

However, at the heart of the story are the emotions about fighting for the right to be a parent/guardian; someone the kid can look up to and sleep beside and confide in. It tugs at your heart all while making you laugh, sometimes in the same scene. This shows the work of a true genius; someone who knew what he wanted to create and the style in which he wanted to portray it.
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the greatest
vladymirror26 September 2003
Is there a way to name the greatest filmmaker of all time? Probably not, to different people it's gonna be different person, so I can speak only for myself. Let me try to describe my favorite contestant for this award:

This man is the true embodiment of the "American Dream": Having grown up in poverty and misery and virtually without parents (without a father and with insane mother), moving to America with basically nothing but his ability to speak English (in the era of the silent movies), this man manages to establish his own film company (United Artists) and becomes one of the creators of Hollywood. He produces, directs, writes, plays the leading role and composes the music for his movies. He is the creator of the most famous movie image on the earth-the Little Tramp. As you all probably know I am talking about sir Charles Spencer Chaplin.

There are attempts, sometimes I read, to make Buster Keaton candidate for the Chaplin's throne. Well, I won't comment on that for I am not familiar with Keaton's work; I grew up with Chaplin so you could say I am being biased, however I would mention only one fact here: the only time the two meet on the screen is in a Chaplin's movie "Limelight." I think this says a lot.

Why did I choose the movie "The Kid" as a podium for my tribute to the great Charlie? I have to say I like all of his movies, mistake, I love all of his movies, but this one is the true purl in his work to me. I don't think of any other movie, not only Chaplin's, that made me cry, I mean really cry, and laugh, I mean really laugh, like "The Kid." The closest I can think of now is another Chaplin's masterpiece "City Lights" but unlike the later one in the former one that is only him, the tramp, and the kid; and everything is silent. Think about it: the movie making at its purest.

I don't know whether I could make my point with this review-probably not. There are not enough words to describe the respect and gratitude I feel towards Chaplin. To me he is simply the greatest filmmaker of all time.
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10/10
rarely has there ever been such a deft mix of wonderful absurdity and (dark) sentiment as here
MisterWhiplash21 August 2008
It's easy to call Charlie Chaplin a genius, but I'll say it once again: the man was a genius, if only at doing a certain particular kind of film. You wouldn't ever see Charlie Chaplin doing a silent horror film, or at least one like out of Germany, or even a big epic that ran Griffith lengths. His artistry was concerned with those who could just about afford the price of a ticket back in the 20s and 30s to see his films and he combined pathos that was incredible and unique in and of its spectrum of humor and compassion. Some may call films like the Kid and even City Lights sentimental, but they may miss the greater picture at work which is that any sentiment is orchestrated and (the usual kicked-around word) manipulated amid the comedic set-ups. Earned sentiment is different than faux sentimentality chucked on to the viewer, and if any case could show this distinction better it would be hard to find a better example then the Kid.

As it stands even at 50 minutes, which was trimmed by Chaplin himself 50 years after its original release and including a new musical score, it's just about a perfectly told tale. It is short in either cut form but its so simple a story to tell that anything else would just likely be padding; even that 'Dreamland' sequence towards the end of the film is crucial and allows for Chaplin to let loose on a wonderful light-and-dark examination of all the major characters in the picture- now with angel wings and devil horns! What it's about, in complete basics, is that a woman leaves her baby in the backseat of a car thinking she won't be able to take care of him, and the baby winds up by chance in an alleyway the Tramp is at, and the Tramp decides to take care of him (he even names him, in one amusing aside, John). Then it cuts to 5 years later, and the two are an intrepid duo as they break and fix windows, eat lots of pancake, and the Tramp nearly gets pummeled by an "Older Brother" of a kid John gets in a fight with. Meanwhile, the mother is now a success, not knowing her child is somewhere- right in front of her nose.

This may sound like a bit of story, but it's told briskly and without a missed beat in editing, and Chaplin's re-edit tightens it to a point where we're mostly with the Kid and the Tramp. Their scenes are everything that Chaplin wants them to be: playful, absurd, cute, and bittersweet to a degree. We know this can't exactly last, but the moment the poor maybe-sick Kid is taken away to the orphanage becomes one of the most tragic (and yet partially triumphant) sequences in the movies. It's in a case like this, where we as the audience tear up, more or less, as the Kid is being carted away crying his eyes out, and then inter-cut with Chaplin's daring dash across the roof-tops to save him, that we see the genius of comedy and tragedy combined and working off each other. This is assisted greatly throughout by child actor Jackie Coogan who may be one of the very best child actors in any film, silent or otherwise; that it's silent adds to the challenge and success of pure pantomime that without fault feels true: even a beat with the Kid playing with toys, an obviously "cute" bit, is great, and up for the task of playing off a quintessential clown like Chaplin.

Featuring some excellent set-pieces just unto themselves (aside from Dreamland there is the fight between Chaplin and the Brother with that belly-laugh part with the repetitive brick-hit to the head, or when Tramp and the Kid stop to sleep for the night at the home and have to sneak around to try and not pay an extra coin), an absolutely beautiful musical track from Chaplin, and excellent performances from all supporting cast (including frequent Chaplin star Edna Purvivance), it's altogether an awe-inspiring feat. To see this or City Lights or Modern Times to an extent is to see ideas and character outlasting far beyond their time and place as something far more valuable to the public consciousness.
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Chaplin and Coogan team for a classic
didi-518 October 2003
Charlie Chaplin's study of a tramp teaming up with a street kid (the cute little Jackie Coogan) has a fine line to tread between humour and pathos, and true to what you would expect of his best work, does it superbly. The tramp always manages to wring the hearts of his viewers and adding a little boy to the mix was the finishing touch. Look out too for little Lita Grey in the angel sequence, who would become Chaplin's 2nd wife four years after this film was made.
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9/10
"Proper care and attention"
Steffi_P21 August 2010
What makes a feature film different to a short? It isn't just length. After all, some of Charlie Chaplin's later shorts were as long as forty-five minutes, while The Kid is barely an hour. No, when Chaplin made his graduation to full-length features, he also strove to broaden the scope, scale and above all the dignity of his work. The Kid is not just the addition of another fifteen minutes of funny business; it is truly a turning point in Chaplin's career.

The Kid begins with a bit of backstory, as a few of Chaplin's shorts do, but never before has he conceived one as professional looking as this. Here we have the opening of a drama, and yet one written and staged with such simplicity that it does not overbalance the rest of the picture, and does not leave us waiting too long to get onto the comedy. Two shots and a title card tell us that the woman in this story is the mother of an illegitimate child. A couple more shots tell us that the father is now out of her life, and revealing him to be an aspiring artist gives us an idea of why she may have been attracted to him, and why perhaps their relationship was passionate yet brief. Of course, such seriousness was the sort of thing to be lampooned in a Chaplin short, but here that wouldn't be appropriate. Instead we are eased gradually into the comedy world, but having the pair of hoodlums who steal the car slightly buffoonish characters – they are by no means laugh-out-loud funny, but they certainly don't belong in a straight dramatic setting. And throughout while the drama remains very genuine Chaplin takes care never to allow any environment to become too serious, for example having Henry Bergman turn up as a flamboyant impresario in the dressing room scene.

And never before has the effort gone into directing actors been so evident in a Chaplin picture. The performances in The Kid are full of subtle gesture and timing in ensemble pieces. Edna Purviance demonstrates a good sense of dramatic realism, with a little too much melodramatic exaggeration, but still very natural by the standards of the time. And of course, little Jackie Coogan is astoundingly impressive, his movements, expressions and timings all spot-on, so much so that it almost looks impossible for a child to be acting with such apparent awareness, and he appears more like a human cartoon character. Coogan steals the picture with ease, and for once the normally egotistical Chaplin steps graciously aside.

This too is an important difference with The Kid. Chaplin had always resisted anything verging on a double act, famously severing his partnership with the funny-in-his-own-right Ben Turpin back in 1915. Now however he allows his rapport with Coogan to become the main basis for gags. Notice how there are very few protracted comedy sequences in The Kid that feature Chaplin on his own. The few examples, such as the routine with the policeman's wife and the window ledge, are often hilarious and Chaplin could easily have filled the picture with such material. However, he does the bulk of the comedy in duet with Coogan, in material which is perhaps not quite as funny but also has that endearing touch to it, and Chaplin willingly sacrifices his own time in the limelight to bring this out.

Today The Kid can be looked upon as the ancestor of the successful feature-length spin-off. If you look at something like the 80-minute Christmas special of The Office, it similarly broadened out the scope of the TV series by adding some serious dramatic and emotional elements, and has become recognised as a masterpiece – better than the series. By comparison The Simpsons will always be best remembered as a TV show because The Simpsons Movie just felt like an extra long episode. Chaplin's full length features however were far more than just spin-offs, and have always been revered and regarded as the most important body of his work.
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10/10
The Kid was Charles Chaplin's first self-produced and directed feature film.
khanbaliq23 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The Kid became a critically hailed international hit. A tramp (Charles Chaplin) brings up an abandoned baby (Jackie Coogan), and later loses him to his mother (Edna Purviance); but there is a happy ending.

The film is a sentimental silent comedy set in the slums. The comedy is sparingly laid on, but the overall effect is much less painful than the synopsis would suggest. The production is comparatively smooth, young Coogan is sensational, and the film contains much of the quintessential Chaplin. Chaplin had difficulties getting The Kid produced. His inspiration, it is suggested was the death of his own first son, Norman Spencer Chaplin a few days after birth in 1919.
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10/10
"A picture with a smile – and perhaps, a tear."
Anonymous_Maxine27 April 2008
Charlie Chaplin's first full length feature film, and his biggest success up to that date, is a remarkably heartwarming story , which makes the surprising connection between slapstick comedy and dramatic tragedy. It begins with a woman who's "sin was motherhood," who gives birth to a baby she can't support at a Charity Hospital which is kept pad-locked from the inside. She is forced to abandon it in an alley, and before long Chaplin wanders by and what follows is one of the best sequences of the film, as he is casually strolling by and then, through a series of odd but entirely believable situations, he is unable to get rid of it.

It is no secret that little Jackie Coogan nearly stole the show from Chaplin (who was in top form) playing the little boy at 5 years old. Charlie's life is thrown into turmoil by the unexpected arrival of the baby, but eventually he sort of organizes his life and when the kid gets a little older they make a nice living together, the boy breaking windows and Charlie selling replacements. Soon the police notice so they have to cut and run, because there are other conflicts approaching which will warrant screen time much more than how they make money.

It is interesting to watch the film oscillate back and forth from Chaplin's traditional slapstick comedy and a much more developed, dramatic story. The film is interspersed with pure slapstick and some genuinely moving moments (sometimes simultaneously, if you can believe that), but overall it is a truly heartwarming tale of friendship and family and survival, and it is never once predictable, all the way until the last frame.

There is a quick scene where the kid gets into a fist fight with another little boy, and in between "rounds, " Charlie is rubbing the kid down and congratulating him on fighting so well, and giving him hints for the rest of the fight. Meanwhile, the other kid's brother shows up, a massive oaf of a man who looks more like Frankenstein's monster than anything else. What follows is a pretty funny fight that looks startlingly similar to the fight between Charlie and the town bully in Easy Street. This is a slapstick set-up that is so simple that it could have been thrown in just to take up screen time, were it not for it's direct relevance to the story.

At another point, there is pure slapstick taking place in their little shack of a home, as the 1921 version of Child Protective Services shows up to tear the young boy crying from Jackie's arms. I think this is the only time in any film that I've ever seen genuine, low-brow slapstick so seamlessly combined with a truly sad and heartbreaking incident. This combination, not just here but throughout the film, is The Kid's biggest achievement.

There is a dream sequence near the end of the film that I am really not sure what to think about, although my understanding is that volumes have been written about it's symbolic meaning, both within the movie and in reference to Chaplin's personal life. And speaking of which, supposedly there were some legal issues involving money and divorce for which Chaplin sped the film stock to Utah for editing. I don't know which story to believe, that it was because of Chaplin's painful divorce or because he was unhappy with his salary (I would bet it's a little of both), but the film is here and I guess ultimately that's all that matters.

In the five or six times that I've seen The Kid, I am always a little uncomfortable with that kiss that Charlie gives the kid when he finally rescues him from the back of that truck, if only because I am conscious that he is not the tramp's real son, either on screen or off. Then again, I am looking at it with 21st century eyes. Some of Shirley Temple's early films are also a little disturbing to me, although for not quite the same reasons.

By this time, Chaplin was fully on the road to his career in full length feature films, and after 36 short comedies for Mack Sennett at Keystone Studios and a dozen or so more for Essanay and Vagabond (along with a few assorted others), Charlie was fast on the way to establishing himself as one of the greatest stars in the history of the cinema.
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8/10
Sensitive and enjoyable film in which Chaplin meets a streetwise orphan and raises him
ma-cortes22 May 2015
Wonderful picture mixes sentiment , drama , slapstick and pursuits in a winning combination . While walking the slums the Tramp (Charles Chaplin) meets a baby left by an unfortunate woman (Edna Purviance who played several Chaplin films) , including a note : ¨Please love and care for this orphan child¨ . He then cares for an abandoned child , as Charlie struggling to nurture the castoff illegitimate kid (Jackie Coogan who launched as the first child superstar) . The Tramp has to face nasty cops , doctors and orphanage workers who want to carry the kid to County Orphan Asylum . As events put that relationship in jeopardy .

This sassy picture packs slapstick , inter-weaving gags , melodrama , opulent Victorian sensibility and a lot of laughters are guaranteed too . ¨The Kid¨ is a culturally , historically , or aesthetically significant drama that originated a great influence of wide range . Ordinary sentimentality is made available both by the balancing presence of harsh reality and Chaplin's amusing grace of pantomimic skills . The sensitive drama is set amongst garbages , flophouses , a slum world described in Erich Von Stroheim style . Being accompanied by an adequate soundtrack , as the main theme from Charles Chaplin's score is based on a theme from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony . Duo starring is frankly magnificent . As Charlot's marvelous acting as a tramp who takes home an abandoned baby . Nice acting by Jackie Cooper as streetwise orphan that launched him as major child star , and it's easy to see why . Furthermore , agreeable Edna Purviance as unlucky mother , she acted in a lot of Chaplin shorts and in A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate .

The motion picture was masterfully directed and played by Charles Chaplin . The production company tried to cheat Charles Chaplin by paying him for this six-reel film what they would ordinarily pay him for two-reel film, about half a million dollars. Chaplin took the unassembled film out of state until they agreed to the one-and-a-half million he deserved, plus half the surplus profits on rentals, plus reversion of the film to him after five years on the rental market. Deemed to be Chaplin's first real feature but he had made many shorts such as ¨The Vagabond¨, ¨Night at the show¨, ¨Burlesque on Carmen¨, ¨The immigrant¨ and ¨The circus¨ . Chaplin subsequently would make a string of successful films such as ¨The Gold Rush¨, ¨City lights¨, ¨Modern times¨, ¨The great dictator¨, ¨Monsieur Verdoux¨ , ¨A King of New York¨ and his last movie ¨Countess from Hong Kong¨.
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9/10
The little tramp perhaps at his best
dg-op5 July 2009
The simple, lovely story of an abandoned kid and found and raised by the little tramp is executed by Chaplin with an incredible sensitive touch. I'd say that it is as much funny as sad, and the music score couldn't be more accurate.

Perhaps the most delightful surprise was to "In the dreamland" scene. So full of symbolism and lyrically narrated, the scene made me question myself if, at the moment, I was watching Buñuel and not Chaplin.

It is not my Chaplin's favorite, but it's for sure one of his bests. Totally recommend to be watched. Chaplin will never disappoint you, that's for sure. If you watch this one, also with "City Lights" and "Modern Times", you'll be ready to enjoy his talkies: "The Great Dictator", a classic, and the perfect, touching till tears, "Limelight".
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9/10
Pathos And Comedy
bkoganbing9 March 2008
Due to an unwed mother abandoning her child in an automobile and said automobile being subsequently hijacked, The Little Tramp winds up with the baby and proceeds to raise it in its first five years.

In reading Charlie Chaplin's memoirs I learned two things about the making of The Kid. First he had to get child star Jackie Coogan away from Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle under whom the lad was contracted. Chaplin saw him and was determined to make a film with him. The second thing was Chaplin's determination to make a film that combined both pathos and comedy which many said could not be done.

The success of The Kid is due to the chemistry established between Chaplin and Coogan. As Chaplin said in his memoirs young children in their uninhibited way are natural actors. Part of the chemistry though is to make sure they don't totally steal the film from you.

The Tramp gets his innings in with The Kid. He's the same rapscallion Tramp we all know, but The Kid showed another side of The Tramp, one of deep feeling and protectiveness. Two people who need and love each other very much. This film couldn't miss.

First National Pictures sure thought so as it became part of a three way tug of war between Chaplin, the studio, and his estranged wife Mildred Harris. The Robert Downey, Jr. biographical film Chaplin illustrates that whole bit of business where Charlie smuggled out the negative of The Kid and took it on the lam across state lines. He edited it and was able to get it back to First National as a finished product on his own terms. That whole business probably would make a good movie unto itself.

Till that one is made see and enjoy the Tramp and the future Uncle Fester in The Kid.
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9/10
"A picture with a smile-and perhaps, a tear." You were too modest, Sir Chaplin ...
ElMaruecan822 August 2011
"The Kid" was released in 1921, at the pinnacle of the Silent era, when emotions came to screen through looks and body language, when "we didn't need dialog, we had faces". And if there's one film where Charlie Chaplin's face oddly illuminates the screen, it's definitely "The Kid".

Sure, many fans would argue that "City Lights" is Chaplin's masterpiece but something is too perfect, too masterfully directed, it was made during the talking era, Chaplin was in his 40's and had more experience, while "The Kid" features a more youthful director, It belongs to a whole other era, and has the historical feel of a Mark Twain or Charles Dickens novel, which is not surprising when you consider that the movie is chronologically closer to these classics …

Indeed, in 1921, Chaplin was 32, Hitchcock 22, Brando wasn't even born, discovering "The Kid" is like turning the pages of a dusty yellow-paged historical book, one eye is watching the film, while the other discovers a period. And I don't know if I'm the only one, but there's something in the setting, the location that makes the film look even older. For all I saw, the movie could have been set in the early century, and considering the timing of the film, maybe this feeling has been deliberately accentuated by Chaplin, himself. The film was made in a difficult personal time, when he'd just lost his son after his birth. There was a great wound in Chaplin's heart and a movie evoking childhood was the best way to exorcise his inner demons, and his discovery of a very young gifted child named Jackie Coogan the perfect encouragement.

The context of "The Kid" is crucial to analyze and comprehend the personal motives of Chaplin beneath the simple desire to make a movie. Chaplin was a successful comedian at that time, which is even more impressive considering his seven-year experience, a short time but enough to create an icon, the Little Tramp, an immediately recognizable character that put a face in a rather young art named Cinema. Chaplin's story is also the perfect illustration of the American Dream and I'm sure that he felt privileged for having gone from a difficult childhood in a poor London district to Hollywood fame ... and maybe somewhere deeply in his heart, he felt obliged to let this part of himself having an occasion to shine, maybe he knew he was the only one who could direct himself in a more serious tone, and maybe the weight of the past was the little flame that ignited his desire to be a film-maker.

"The Emigrant" in 1917 was like the first step back into Chaplin's past, inspired by his own experience. The movie doesn't feature many emotional moments probably because the emigration carries a sort of hope for a better future, and leaving the motherland wasn't synonym of sadness, but the emotions were there, beyond the slapstick and the comedy, and waiting for another step back, to finally explode in an emotional firework, which directly transports us to Chaplin's past. He who grew up without a father, and started working at an early age, he who learned entertainment for survival more than for a living, before it cemented his talent, he needed to dedicate a film to what made Chaplin Chaplin. And this is how "The Kid" was made, and for the first time, Chaplin would become more than a simple clown, and get all the respect he needed from his peers, as a gifted film-maker. He could finally make his first masterpiece "The Gold Rush", but "The Kid" was this necessary last breath before taking the big dive.

Many aspects of "The Kid" highlight Chaplin's past, and the level of pathos depicted in the introduction will disconcert many fans who expected good laughs : a woman abandons a child, expecting him to be adopted by a rich family, until funny yet hazardous circumstances put the child into the Tramp's arms. But what strikes the most is the level of maturity from Chaplin who, despite the archetypal situations, didn't make the gesture as spontaneous as it could have been, the mother of the illegitimate son is obviously devoured by guilt, as is the father, a nice-looking fellow, and a sign that Chaplin doesn't hold any grief against his father. These things happen, and we shouldn't feel sorry, as it contributed to the creation of one of the greatest early cinematic duos : the Tramp and the Kid.

In every aspect, the Kid is Chaplin's alter ego : he's smart, tender, funny, sensitive… and more than anything extremely convincing. We've seen so many child performances since 1921 to get a definitive opinion on what a great one is, and Jackie Coogan is one of the best, if not the best, almost stealing the show from the King of Comedy, and that the kid didn't become as much a star as Chaplin, is one of cinema's cruelest ironies. The chemistry between the two characters is genuinely authentic, and it takes its highlight at one irresistible emotional scene. I surrendered to tears when I saw the poor little kid crying, while the movie showed one of the rarest and most intense close-ups on Chaplin's face : his devastated look and his eyes suggesting an icy blueness as to incarnate the cold cruelty of a world that would allow the worst to happen, and whatever inhabits the Tramp's heart is communicated through an emotional score composed by Chaplin himself.

Chaplin, like Disney for animation, handled drama with the same strength as for comedy, the necessary tears for a movie mostly made of joy, fun, cheers, and even some dreamy escapism allowing a self-reflexive approach of the magic of childhood. "The Kid" is not perfect, but it's a masterpiece of sincerity, of humanity that only Chaplin could have made and embodied through a magnificent music. If not his best, it's his most defining film …
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10/10
A timeless classic
haterofcrap6 June 2011
This is such a incredible movie...Along with "City Lights" and "The Gold Rush" this has to be one of the best movies starring Charles Chaplin, and it is also one of the best movies ever made.

It is true that for the modern viewers, the story of this film could be way too melodramatic and dated, but personally I think it is one of the most heartwarming and captivating films ever made, and a timeless classic from the age where movies were made with heart and not only thinking only in the box-office.

That doesn't mean this movie isn't entertaining: In fact, I found this movie to be way more enjoyable than many modern unfunny "comedies" and also way more emotional and engaging.

I truly loved this film. It is one of the best movies of the story of cinema and shouldn't be forgotten.
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10/10
A Sheer Masterpiece of Motion Pictures
rneil952 February 2011
The opening title to this film reads "A film with a smile - and perhaps, a tear." Truer words about a motion picture have never been spoken, for Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid" has a plethora of smiles from start to finish, and yes, a few tears as well. The film tells the tale of a woman who abandons her infant son, who is eventually stumbled upon by the famous Little Tramp character, played by Chaplin. The Tramp takes the baby into his own care. Five years go by, and the Tramp and the Kid, portrayed by a young Jackie Coogan, are getting along just fine. However, a turn of events results in the two being separated, and from there the film moves on as the Tramp desperately tries to be reunited with the boy he has grown to consider his son.

Charlie Chaplin is a true master of filmmaking, and this film is one of his best. His direction is truly remarkable, being able to manipulate the audience's emotions so much without sound. He is able to do more with silence than any living filmmaker could do with an insurmountable budget. He manages to make you laugh almost non-stop from start to finish, and even wind up causing you to shed a tear. It's so emotionally gripping, and you just fall in love with these characters from the get-go. Even though the Tramp may not have the best living conditions or resources to properly care for the Kid, his love and loyalty to his job of caring for the boy makes their relationship a truly beautiful piece of cinema.

As emotionally wrenching this film is, it's simply hilarious. This film has some great slapstick humor, and Chaplin is a true master of it. Jackie Coogan is also great. If I had to find one flaw with the film, it would be the slightly odd and silly dream sequence, but it is symbolic of the rest of the film and I don't really mind it, despite being odd and out of tone with the rest of the film. Overall, The Kid is a film that can make you laugh out loud one minute, then tug at your heartstrings the next. It's an absolute riot, but one of the most emotionally satisfying pieces of cinema I've ever seen. And to think that Chaplin did all this without a line of dialogue, it's just incredible. And not to mention the music is just stellar too, Chaplin is a master at composition. The Kid is one of my favorite films, and anyone who has yet to see it should definitely get on that!
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8/10
A Solid, Though Short, Chaplin Effort
gavin69428 January 2011
When watching this, I wanted to give the film a 7 rather than an 8, simply because I do not think it is as good as "Modern Times" or one or two others. However, taking into account that this is 1921 and the film technology is not all there, I will give it a little extra bump because it is so clean and well done, it could have been made a decade later and looked the same.

Chaplin has to, of course, be given a lot of credit for producing, writing, directing and starring. Being a great comic actor is one thing, but being able to run your whole production takes a special skill. And young Jackie Coogan sells the picture. The film succeeds or fails depending on your casting of the kid, and they nailed it -- he's adorable, emotional, and seems able to handle any situation.
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8/10
Inspiring plot
vishal_wall23 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A tramp finds an abandoned kid on the street. He tries to get rid of it in Charlie Chaplin way but ends up raising it with road side values. Child becomes an apple of his eyes in a few years but the mother comes back to claim her son. I had heard that this was the best movie Charlie Chaplin made but I disagree with that statement completely. No doubt it's a fantastic movie with a very strong story and message but it's definitely not his best. I found the last scene of the movie a little contrite and compromising. The story has been adapted and tried in very many forms. Extremely sensitive and though provoking cinema. A must see for all.
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One of His All-Time Best
JoeErnie26 May 2004
I was hardly a Chaplin fan, in fact, I loved Laurel & Hardy, and really didn't like Charlie Chaplin, until I found that I could impersonate him as a look-a-like. Then, while viewing his films for the need of impersonating, I have become a big Charlie Chaplin fan. His comedy mingled with pasos and pantomime was unique, and very funny; and this one is certainly one of his best.

In it a six-year old Jackie Coogan makes his screen debut as a little orphan that the tramp picks up and cares for five years. Every moment of this film is terrific, it moves along swiftly, and made me shed a tear three or few times. Chaplin's score is undeniably a great piece of artwork, and the acting is superb; nobody in this film lacks-especially Chaplin.

I recommend this film for all to see. It's age has not diminished this little love tale for a family, in fact, it makes you realize family love even more. You'll laugh, cry, and have a great time out. Rent it. Buy it. View it. It's a film for all to see.
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Pretty Good Sentimental Comedy
rmax3048234 March 2004
They say Chaplain is a cultural icon and all that but I'm not so sure anymore. There has been a generational discontinuity, at least in the USA, that seems to have happened about 20 or 30 years ago. I suspect that most people over the age of 40 could identify Charlie Chaplin, and most people under that age would have to stretch a bit. Just one more item in the cultural data base gurgling its way through the age structure towards extinction.

Generally I disapprove of kids in movies as straightforward objects of a particularly putrid kind of manipulation, but Jackie Coogan is an exception.

Sentimental manipulation there is, but it's mainly limited to one or two scenes. The comedy is pretty acerbic. Saddled with possession of an abandoned baby, Charlie holds it in his lap and sits on the curb to think about how to get rid of it. He notices a sewer grating in the gutter and lifts the lid thoughtfully for a second before glancing around and lowering it again. That's not what passes for sentimentality.

Besides, Coogan is cute when he's 5 or 6 years old, a ragamuffin dressed in floppy over-sized bags of clothing, so that when he runs at high speed he looks like a little football with tiny feet on it. And the kid can act too.

Charlie demonstrated every move the kid was supposed to make and Coogan did a good job of imitating him, which was all he had to do. Coogan is also refreshing when compared to all the adult actors in the film because he's too inexperienced to know how to overact.

Chaplain is good too, of course. How could one person be so inventive? It's said that TV "eats up" talent because of the constant demand for new material. One of the better series, "Twilight Zone," had about three good years of collaborative effort in it. Chaplain in the same period of time appeared in 62 films and directed something like 28 of them, and he was just getting started.

I'll give one example of a joke, without an iota of sentiment in it, to illustrate how well Chaplain and Coogan worked together. Coogan gets into a street fight with another kid, a big bully, who knocks him about. Chaplain spots this, interrupts the fight, and takes Coogan to a neutral corner where he gives him a quick lesson on boxing -- go for the belly, keep your guard up -- and sends him back into the fight. At this point the bully's hugely muscular big brother swaggers over to Chaplain and says, "If your boy beats my boy, I'm going to beat you." Coogan begins beating hell out of the other kid, knocking him down again and again while Chaplain sweats and twitches with fear. Finally Coogan lands a tremendous blow on the bully's chin and flattens him. But he swings with such force that he himself twirls around a couple of times and falls flat on his back. Chaplain dashes over, puts his foot on the Coogan's chest to hold him down, quickly counts to ten, rushes to the befuddled bully and raises his hand -- the winner!

A rather tight rein is kept on the pathos and the comic material is edgy. You'll enjoy it. Especially if you're one of those rare folks under 40 with the patience to sit through a movie in black and white that has no dialogue.
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10/10
A picture with a smile and perhaps, a tear.
braddugg19 September 2014
A picture with a smile and perhaps, a tear.

That is the first line of the movie as it begins, and it stands true. We cry when the kid is being taken away from his father and we smile when they unite and share the feeling. Wow, I can't say ho much this meant to me as a father and son story. Now, we have got so many movie where a child is taken away and united finally, recent great movie is Finding Nemo. But what's special about this movie is simplicty, honesty and a rare kind of emotion that only Chaplin could bring into us.

Done by the genius Chaplin, there is not a moment where we are left without a feeling, we either smile or bring tears. So to say there is never a dull moment would still be an understatement. Look for that dream scene and most of the things that we wish to do, are done there. Winning over a fight from a neighbour, meeting angels and all.

Now, look at the editing in this less than an hour film, its neat and precise. The cinematography tells us the story superbly by moving camera at right pace. The music supplements at most places and yes it is great music in the context of the film. Acting is sublime by Chaplin, only few can do what he did and even today, hardly anyone can match him.

It's a great movie undoubtedly and a must watch, atlas watch it before you die, you may learn something you never wanted to miss. It's 5/5 for one of the finest silent movies ever.
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6/10
Good natured, but not that funny
TheOtherFool20 April 2004
Chaplin's The Kid is more of a 'normal' movie that makes points towards wealth/poorness and is interesting more like a social study, instead of a slapstick comedy.

The Kid, a brilliant Jackie Coogan, is abandoned by his then poor mother, who's idea it is to leave her son in the hands of some rich people. Instead, the car in which she puts the baby is stolen and The Kid is left abandoned yet again somewhere in the streets. The Tramp just happens to walk by and decides to play the father.

The movie then takes a funny turn as 'father and son' pull some schemes to earn some money, until The Kid gets ill. Then he's taken to an orphanage, but he's 'rescued' by The Tramp.

New problems arise when the real mother, who now is a famous actress, wants her son back and finds out about the true identity of The Kid she met some times. But thankfully, all ends well.

Movie starts out by stating: 'a picture with a smile - and perhaps, a tear' but there aren't that many funny scenes in this Chaplin. Too bad as the movie is good natured and moving at times. Although a good movie overall, not the classic many people think (IMHO).

6/10.
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