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 ... more »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 and just as they have bonded and become a family, the boy's mother returns in a bittersweet finale. "A Dog's Life" (1918, 35 min.) is not only the satisfying story of canine and human underdogs succeeding in spite of the odds against them, it's also a series of side-splitting gags and slapstick routines that are as funny today as they were when the film was released and became an instant hit.« less
Mark Pollock | Davis, CA United States | 08/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film was masterfully restored by David Shepherd for the Chaplin family, and was released in this version on Laserdisc and, later, DVD. The quality is awesome, and Shepherd was able to restore several cuts that Chaplin made in later reissues, cuts that changed the motivation of characters at several key moments. The quality of the film is astounding, especially for an 80+ year old film!As far as the story goes, it is rather lean on gags, but big on heroics, with many amusing situations and a couple of unforeseen plot twists. Even children will like this film, despoite the fact that there's no color and no talking!!"
The most underrated movie of all time?
Mark Pollock | 03/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Kid is a wonderful movie, which all too few people have even heard of (even those familiar with some silents). Chaplin's first feature film involves his hilarious and touching adventures after "adopting" an abandonned child (played by a young Jackie Coogan - you'd never recognize the future Uncle Fester). And the portrayal of overzealous child "protectors" ripping apart families unfortunately still rings true today. The one minor misstep in the entire movie is the brief dream sequence towards the end, which slows down the momentum right at the climax. Still, one of the greatest movies ever made, and probably the most underrated. The Idle Class isn't nearly at the level of The Kid, but it's thrown in as a bonus and has some very funny moments."
The Kid: With a smile and perhaps a tear
Robert Jordan | San Diego, CA | 11/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Kid remains my favorite Chaplin film. The first time I saw it I actually cried. It continues to amuse and move (I show it to college film students each semester and they love it). Consider this: Chaplin stared, directed, produced, wrote the script and even composed the musical score!Another item that may increase your appreciation of this film: Chaplin and his wife had just had a baby die when he began developing the idea of having his alter-ego, the Tramp, raise a baby. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have the strength to share my pain with ten million people by turning it into a movie.This gem belongs in any video collection. Enjoy!"
Chaplin's "The Kid": a picture with a smile-perhaps a tear
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 12/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Charlie Chaplin began filming "The Kid" two weeks after the death of his three-day old son from his marriage to Mildred Harris. Chaplin had signed a new contract with First National Studio and "The Kid" was going to be one of the eight two-reelers Chaplin was supposed to make, but the project kept growing until the film was six reels long. As such "The Kid" becomes the comedian's first feature film as writer, director, and star (He had appeared as the male lead in 1914's "Tillie's Punctured Romance," but that was just as an actor and not really a "Chaplin" comedy).
Edna Purviance, Chaplin's long time leading lady, plays a desperate unwed mother who leaves her baby in a limousine with a note pleading whoever finds him to take care of him. She changes her mind, but the baby (Baby Hathaway), is gone and ends up in the tender care of Chaplin's Tramp. The Fates have brought the two of them together, and the Tramp raises the Kid (Jackie Coogan) as best he can. They survive by working together: the Kid throws a brick through a window and Charlie walks by and offers to repair it. The big moment comes in the film when the authorities literally rip the Kid away from the Tramp's arms intending to the boy to the Orphan Asylum. The Tramp actually resorts to physical violence to rescue the Kid and flee to a flophouse. There the proprietor (Henry Bergman) learns of the reward for the Kid and while Charlie is sleeping steals the boy and returns him to his mother for the big reward. Longing for the Kid, Charlie has a wondrous dream where their poverty row street is transformed into Heaven (where the "Flirtatious Angel" is young Lillita McMurray, who would later become Chaplin's second wife, Lita Grey). The Tramp awakes from the dream and is taken by a kindly policeman to be reunited with the Kid and his mother.
Chaplin had seen Coogan performing on the Vaudeville stage with his parents and had given him a bit part in his 1919 comedy short "A Day's Pleasure." With the six-year-old Coogan "The Kid" was a tremendous box office hit, quite possibly the biggest money making movie of all time up to that point grossing $2.5 million. Chaplin had combined comedy and pathos before, but when the Kid is taken away from the Tramp by the authorities and screams for his papa, you almost forget this is a silent film. Posters for the film proudly stated that Chaplin had worked an entire year on the film, and audiences were obviously pleased with the results. This would give Chaplin the leeway to take all the time he wanted to perfect the films that he made the rest of his life. Coogan was the biggest child star of the silent era, but would eventually become known to later generations as Uncle Festus on "The Addams Family." However, his biggest impact game when it was discovered his guardians had spent Coogan's fortune before he reached the age of 18, which inspired the passage of the "Coogan Law" that protects the assets of minor children.
While it seems clear that "The Kid" owes much to Chaplin's personal tragedy, there is something archetypal to the story of the abandoned child who is rescued. Tales of orphans were popular throughout the 20th century, starting with "Anne of Green Gables" and ending with Harry Potter. However, "The Kid" is not without its flaws, which come mainly in the subplot regarding the Kid's mother. Chaplin portrays her as an unwed mother ostracized by a judgmental society for her sun, making a visual comparison to Christ on the cross and sanctifying her with strong religious imagery throughout the film. There is nothing wrong with that, but once she loses her baby she ends up becoming a famous opera star, which means that in the end the Kid will not only be reunited with his mother but be able to live the good life. Pretty convenient, but it means that the reunion of mother and son pales in comparison to Charlie rescuing the Kid from the authorities.
Also on this DVD is the 1918 short, "A Dog's Life," which is one of my all-time favorite Chaplin two-reelers. The Tramp, who lives in a vacant lot, becomes friends with Scraps, and together they steal some tasty sausages from a lunch wagon (run by Chaplin's brother Sydney). The main set piece is when Scraps digs up a wallet filled with money that has been buried in the lot by some crooks and the Tramp sneaks the dog into a dance hall. Edna Purviance is a singer there, having to put up with the unwanted attentions of the patrons, and the obvious object of the Tramp's affection. The crooks show up looking for Charlie and the money as well and the best bit is where the Tramp knocks out one of the crooks and continues the silent conversation with the other one by replacing the unconscious crook's arms with his own. I also have a fondness for this short because it was the one that got my youngest daughter hooked on Charlie Chaplin."
Two of Chaplin's Best
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 10/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Avoid the disappointing Warner reissues of Charlie Chaplin's First National work and track down this Image DVD. Film historian David Shepard's excellent restorations of "The Kid" (1921) and "A Dog Life" (1918) remain the definitive, uncut versions. Why Chaplin chose to tamper with these classics in his later years is truly mind-boggling. The Chaplin family should acknowledge the superiority of the original versions - regardless of their father's final wishes."