Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Kid (1921 film)

Written, edited, directed, and starring Charles Chaplin, The Kid is the story of a tramp who finds an abandoned baby as he later raises the child to be his partner-in-crime. The film marks Chaplin’s first full-length feature film as a director in which he plays the Tramp character as it would feature a mix of comedy and drama. Also starring Jackie Coogan and Edna Purviance. The Kid is a dazzling yet touching film from Charles Chaplin.

The film is about a tramp who finds an abandoned baby whom he raises as his child and partner-in-crime where they do all sorts of schemes in order to survive in the streets. Yet, it is about so much more as also plays into an unwedded woman who had to abandon her child as she had no means to raise the baby where she left him inside the car of a rich family with a note. By the time the baby that would be named John (Jackie Coogan) becomes a boy, he would have these encounters with this woman (Edna Purviance) who had become a wealthy movie star as they’re unaware of who they are to each other. Yet, the woman would eventually learn that the boy is her son where the tramp would get into some trouble where he fights for the boy he has raised. It’s a film that not only has moments of slapstick but also some drama where Charles Chaplin is able to find a balance within the two genres and make something is truly special.

Chaplin’s direction is pretty straightforward in some respects where he doesn’t move the camera yet manages to create some gorgeous compositions in the film. Notably in the way he presents the drama as well as the story of this woman who arrives with a baby in tow unsure of what to do. The sense of drama is among the many highlights that Chaplin displays where he knows where to place the camera while using some close-ups and medium shots to capture these little moments. In the sense of comedy, it is about a physicality but also the sense of timing in the way the comedy is presented in order to tell the story. Even where Chaplin knows when to restrain it for some of the tender moments between the Tramp and John such as the times they eat meals together.

The direction has Chaplin use the comedy in some respects with a mesh of drama that includes this intense scene of the Tramp trying to retrieve John from authorities which includes the Tramp being chased by a police officer on the roof. It’s one of these amazing set pieces where Chaplin’s direction and his playful approach to editing showcases a mastery in the way he can convey humor but also drama. Even as he would also include this amazing dreamland sequence towards the end of the film where the Tramp dreams of a better world only to deal with sin and temptation. Overall, Chaplin creates a very powerful and entertaining film about a man raising an orphan as they do whatever it takes to survive.

Cinematographer R.H. Totheroh does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from the vibrant look of the daytime exteriors to the usage of lights in some of the film‘s nighttime interior scenes. Art director Charles D. Hall does fantastic work with some of the film‘s set pieces such as the home that the Tramp and John lived in to the poor neighborhood they live in. The film’s music by Charles Chaplin is just exquisite as it features some serene orchestral flourishes that mixes humor and drama as it’s definitely of Chaplin’s finest scores.

The film’s cast includes some notable small performances from Lita Grey as a flirtatious angel, Charles Reisner as an alley bully, Henry Bergman as the night shelter keeper, Tom Wilson as a cop, Carl Miller as the woman’s beau, and Granville Redmond as the beau’s friend. Edna Purviance is amazing as the woman who was forced to abandon her child only to become a movie star as she longs to find her child as she eventually realizes that the boy she had met is her son. Jackie Coogan is great as the titular character as this very energetic boy who knows how to hustle while being an equal to the Tramp as well as a boy who just wants to live a good life. Finally, there’s Charles Chaplin in a phenomenal performance as the Tramp as this mischievous yet caring man who is just hustling to survive while he fights for the boy he has grown to love since finding him as a baby.

The Kid is a remarkable film from Charles Chaplin that features another winning performance from Chaplin as well as an extraordinary one from Jackie Coogan. It’s a film that is definitely one of Chaplin’s most quintessential films in terms of meshing comedy and drama to create a truly touching story. In the end, The Kid is an enchanting film from Charles Chaplin.

Charles Chaplin Films: (Twenty Minutes of Love) - (Caught in the Rain) - (A Busy Day) - (Her Friend the Bandit) - (Mabel’s Married Life) - (Laughing Gas) - (The Face On the Bar Room Floor) - (Recreation) - (The Masquerader) - (His New Profession) - The Rounders - (The Property Man) - (The New Janitor) - (Those Love Pangs) - (Dough & Dynamite) - (Gentlemen of Nerve) - (His Musical Career) - (His Trysting Place) - (Getting Acquainted) - (His Prehistoric Past) - (His New Job) - (A Night Out) - (The Champion) - (In the Park) - (A Jitney Elopement) - (The Tramp) - (By the Sea (1915 film)) - (His Regeneration) - (Work (1915 film) - (A Woman) - (The Bank) - (Shanghaied) - (A Night in the Snow) - (Burlesque on Carmen) - (Police (1916 film)) - (Triple Trouble) - (The Floorwalker) - (The Fireman) - (The Vagabond) - (One A.M. (1916 film)) - (The Count) - (The Pawnshop) - (Behind the Screen) - (The Rink) - (Easy Street) - (The Cure (1917 film)) - (The Immigrant (1917 film)) - (The Adventurer) - A Dog’s Life - (The Bond) - Shoulder Arms - Sunnyside - A Day’s Pleasure - (The Professor) - The Idle Class - Pay Day - The Pilgrim - A Woman of Paris - The Gold Rush - The Circus - City Lights - Modern Times - The Great Dictator - Monsieur Verdoux - Limelight - A King in New York - (A Countess from Hong Kong)

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