Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Produced by Charlie Chaplin
Written by Charlie Chaplin
Starring Charlie Chaplin
Music by Charlie Chaplin (composed 1971)
Distributed by First National / Warner Home Video
Release date(s) January 21, 1921
Running time 68 min.
Language Silent film
This is a very short film, at just over 50 minutes in length, but it is very sweet. The comedy in the film feels a little dated, like typical slapstick of the kind that everyone else at the time was doing, yet the thing that makes Chaplin unique here is not the pratfalls that he takes, but the empathy that he evokes from the viewer. This was the first film to ever combine humour with melodrama.
It is the melodrama that sets this film apart from its contemporaries. It is schmaltzy, that’s for sure, but these scenes are some of the most famous in film history, especially the moving scene after the orphanage takes the Kid from the Tramp and after a struggle the two are reunited. The look of relief and tears on the faces of Charlie and 5 year old Jackie Coogan as they hug each other in that scene is priceless and very moving.
Chaplin would go on to make many more brilliant films after The Kid that combined, namely The Gold Rush, City Light and Modern Times, but this is the film that started it all. Chaplin’s first great movie.
* Yes, The Kid, Jackie Coogan, did go on to play Uncle Fester in the Addams Family 40 years later.