The Kid (1921) produced & directed by Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Jackie Coogan
Synopsis of Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid:
The Kid was Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length movie. It, more than anything else to that date, made Chaplin a living legend. It took over a year to produce, and was an incredible success for Chaplin. The opening title reads: “A comedy with a smile — and perhaps a tear“. As a woman (Edna Purviance) leaves a charity hospital with a newborn, and passes a church wedding. She leaves her baby with a pleading note in a limousine and goes off to commit suicide. She turns from suicide at the last moment to return to her child, only to find him missing. The limo had been stolen by thieves who dumped the baby by a garbage can. Charlie the Tramp finds the baby and, after failing to pass the child on to someone more suitable, raises the child himself.
Five years later Edna has become an opera star but does charity work for slum youngsters in hope of finding her lost boy. Charlie and The Kid make an interesting pair. The Kid breaks windows with a rock, which Charlie then comes by to repair. This routine was taken from the life of Charlie Chaplin’s old boss, Fred Karno, who actually did this as a boy.
A doctor called by Edna discovers the note with the truth about The Kid. The doctor reports it to the authorities who come to take him away from Charlie. In one of the most touching moments of the film, the Kid has to be pulled out of Charlie’s arms by the authorities. This incident came directly from Charlie Chaplin’s own childhood, when he was torn from his mother’s arms as he entered a workhouse. 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 from a sleeping Charlie to Edna. Charlie is later awakened from a dream by a kind policeman who reunites him with the Kid at Edna’s mansion.
I rate it 4 clowns on a 5-clown scale.
Editorial review of The Kid | Charlie Chaplin | Edna Purviance | Jackie Coogan | movie review, courtesy of Amazon.com
A Chaplin double feature starring Edna Purviance and Jackie Coogan. “The Kid” (1921, 68 min.) was director Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length film and is considered one of his best. Co-starring five-year-old Coogan, whom Chaplin discovered on a Los Angeles vaudeville stage, “The Kid” is the story of a child abandoned in a limousine by his unwed mother (Purviance). When The Little Tramp finds him, he tries unsuccessfully to find a home for the boy. Obliged to keep him, The Little Tramp teaches the youngster about life on the streets. Just as they have bonded and become a family, the boy’s mother returns in a bittersweet finale.
Notes on Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid:
The production company tried to cheat Charlie 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 demanded. Plus half the surplus profits on rentals, plus reversion of the film to him after five years on the rental market.
- Jackie Coogan, young star of the movie, went on to become the first great childhood star. Sadly, his guardians spent his entire fortune before he could reach the age of 18. This led to the “Coogan Law” protecting minor children’s assets
- Jackie Coogan, child star, later grew up to be one of the well-beloved stars of a classic TV series Uncle Fester on The Addams Family