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8.3/10
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The Kid (1921)

The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy.

Director:

Charles Chaplin (as Charlie Chaplin)

Writer:

Charles Chaplin (as Charlie Chaplin)
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Top Rated Movies #98 | 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Carl Miller ... The Man
Edna Purviance ... The Woman
Jackie Coogan ... The Child (as Jack Coogan)
Charles Chaplin ... A Tramp (as Charlie Chaplin)
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Storyline

The opening title reads: "A comedy with a smile--and perhaps a tear". As she leaves the charity hospital and passes a church wedding, Edna deposits her new baby with a pleading note in a limousine and goes off to commit suicide. The limo is stolen by thieves who dump the baby by a garbage can. Charlie the Tramp finds the baby and makes a home for him. Five years later Edna has become an opera star but does charity work for slum youngsters in hope of finding her boy. A doctor called by Edna discovers the note with the truth about the Kid and reports it to the authorities who come to take him away from Charlie. 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 to Edna. Charlie is later awakened by a kind policeman who reunites him with the Kid at Edna's mansion. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

6 reels of Joy. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Family

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 February 1921 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Waif See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$250,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$5,450,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1971 edit with new Chaplin score) | (DVD) | (re-release)

Sound Mix:

Mono (new music score) (1971)| Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The production company tried to cheat Charles Chaplin by paying him for this six-reel film what they would ordinarily pay him for a two-reel film, which was about $500,000. Chaplin took the unassembled film out of state until the company agreed to the $1.5 million he was supposed to be paid, plus half the surplus profits on rentals, along with reversion of the film to him after five years on the rental market. See more »

Goofs

When the Tramp finds the baby while sitting in the sidewalk, he leaves his stick by his right side. After the shot of the baby's mother's letter, there is no stick by Tramp's side, and after another shot, it appears again and in a different position. See more »

Quotes

A Tramp: Awkward ass.
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Alternate Versions

A new version was reissued in 1971 with a new music score composed by Charles Chaplin, who also re-edited the film in order to omit a few scenes featuring the kid's mother. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Michael (1924) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
rarely has there ever been such a deft mix of wonderful absurdity and (dark) sentiment as here
21 August 2008 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

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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