#96: The Kid (1921)

When and how did I watch this?

October 3rd, 2016 on Amazon Prime.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I noticed immediately upon starting the journey that this is the earliest film on the list (95 years!), and the first Chaplin film.  I’m not sure if there are any other Chaplin entries.

What do I know about it now?

I confess, it was hard to get past the period of the film as well as the pace.  Perhaps I lean toward movies steep with perilous situations, and besides a desperate chase scene involving the kid himself being taken away by the authorities and a slapstick-style brawl involving both protagonists, the film offered very little tension.  In fact, it makes light of what might be regarded as desperate situations: poverty, unemployment, crime, abandonment, and loss. And maybe that’s the whole idea.  The setting is plight, so why not make the best of it? Chaplin as the Tramp and Coogan as the kid have an emotional connection that draws you in, despite the surrounding filth. Chaplin’s facial expressions are all there, as one might expect, and like Keaton’s The Generalthe words are unnecessary.  The lack of narrating title cards is astounding; the movie expects us to follow along and make sense of it.  It does, and we do. I’m forced to make the cliche concession: for 1921, this is brilliant.

What are some themes in the film?

Family, hospitality, fame/greed, pride, perseverance

Did this affect me personally?

The film quality has significantly deteriorated, creating an odd effect on your vision upon concluding the film. I suppose that’s not fair, but that’s likely what I might remember about it the most. The angel scene, in its odd placement, is memorable as well.

Why is this ranked #96?

Charlie Chaplin and his indelible mark in cinema history. It can’t be overlooked.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She thought it was really sweet, and the winner for her was the kid.

Would I watch it again?

Yep, although I would hope for a refined print, if possible.  It hurts the eyes.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

It’s an important film, and one of the earliest drama/comedy entries in movie history.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

The IMDb Top 250 would be incomplete without a Chaplin entry.  I don’t know much about his work, but perhaps this is one of the best.  I’ve heard there are two camps: the Keaton camp and the Chaplin camp.  I’m probably a member of the former, based on what I’ve seen, and I would readily swap this film with Keaton’s entry on the list.  However, leaving either one of them off would be a disservice to the foundation of cinema, and to argue for Chaplin, he is the face of the silent film era.

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  1. My last recollection of a Charlie Chaplin movie was at a Halloween event that was set up by the church. We took a bus to a building to watch silent films then went to a scary place in the Hayward hills, weird I know. Thing is what I’ve found about him is a beautiful song in the lyrics of the song smile. I heard this pretty blonde sing it not knowing it was his, she died of cancer, I think I watched it on PBS. Still trying to find her singing it. Sorry if this has nothing to do with his film. Thanks for writing about his films.


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