THE KID (1921) B/W; "silent"; various running times: 90m/80m/51m; dir: Charles Chaplin

w/Charles Chaplin, Jackie Coogan, Edna Purviance, Carl Miller, Tom Wilson, Chuck Reisner, Henry Bergman, Albert Austin, Lita Grey

From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "Charlie finds the baby of an unmarried mother (Purviance) and decides to bring him up himself. The little boy (Coogan) throws rocks at windows so that Charlie can appear immediately after as an itinerant glazier. Meanwhile, the mother has become a rich opera singer. The authorities attempt to remove the Kid, but Charlie and he run away. ...

"Apart from Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914), this was Chaplin's longest film at that time. It is more of a straight drama than a comedy, with a well-constructed plot and realistic characters. Its most striking scene is that in which a group of puritans try to take the Kid away to an orphanage. This episode is autobiographical [Chaplin also wrote the screenplay] and the room in which Charlie and the Kid live was based on Chaplin's own childhood memories. One of the best scenes, full of tenderness and humor, is that in which Charlie makes a dressing gown by sticking his head through a ragged blanket, takes a plate of pancakes, and gives the Kid a lesson in good manners. The film even incorporates completely lyrical episodes, as in the final part of Charlie's dream in which the inhabitants of the slum sprout wings like angels and fly about.

"Under Chaplin's coaching, the five-year-old Jackie Coogan gives a persuasive, natural, and charming performance as a kind of junior 'Tramp.' Regrettably, Coogan later became a very mannered child star. Chaplin invested considerable money and time on this feature (a difficult form for a comedian) and, anxious about its success, took it to Europe. It was as great a success there as it was in the States."