- Gareth Crook
The Kid (1921) - 9/10
I’ve never watched a Charlie Chaplin film all the way through before. Sure I’ve seen the clips, but watching in entirety is another thing. The Kid, not only written, directed and produced by Chaplin, was scored too. This is no minor thing, score is always important but more so when the film is otherwise silent. A young woman, left alone with an unwanted child. Does what she thinks is best, leaving him in a fancy car in an affluent area, only for the car to be pinched by two robbers, who then leave him out on the street. It’s dramatic stuff. Thank god for Charlie who instantly lightens the mood as The Tramp. There’s little need to describe him of course, he’s iconic. The look, the walk. Watching him for a full feature though, you see just how well rounded a character he is, right from the get go. He finds himself at first comically landed with the kid, until he discovers he’s orphaned when he melts and becomes possibly the worlds least prepared father. The storytelling is light, but full of heart and really zips along at quite a lick. Everything’s very economical, there’s not a wasted shot. The Tramp is an inventive sort, raising the boy to not only help make ends meet, but also be great on screen. Child actor Jackie Coogan really is a delight, but doesn’t steal Chaplin’s thunder. It’s hysterical fun as the pair get into scraps in the slums, but when the boy gets sick the pesky authorities try to intervene to take him to the ‘orphanage asylum’, now that doesn’t sound good does it. Chaplin is of course fantastic, but really the whole case are excellent. Portraying real joy and despair with the actions. There’s some wonderful sequences too, even a rooftop chase, a brawl in a moving car and a trippy dream sequence. It’s blockbuster stuff. When the mother returns to the picture, well let’s just say the simple, dramatic, action filled comedy, also ticks the satisfactory box in a touching finale that had me smiling from ear to ear. Not bad for a debut feature.