dir.: Charlie Chaplin
Spine Number: 799
Oh my God, are they going to kill that kid? No, oh good because that is not what I signed up for. After the credits the first intertitle states, “A picture with a smile – and perhaps, a tear,” so I was genuinely stunned when the tough pulled his revolver on the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Soon my laughter started to gain steam until I was on a giggle course straight through to the dream sequence.
In The Kid Charlie Chaplin’s character, The Tramp, finds an baby that a couple of hooligans place next to a rubbish can. After several attempts to pawn the kid off on other passersby he realizes that the baby is now his little burden of joy. Chaplin soon decides to do everything in his power, which is wildly limited, to raise the boy the best he can.
I read that The Kid is semi-biographical as Chaplin and his brother, Sydney, endured a very tumultuous upbringing as children of an “absconding father and mentally ill mother*.”
Watching the film made me wonder what I would do in the same position. Obviously my first step would be to run a garbage-bin baby to the police station. Whatever happened to land the child in the waste of others deserves a proper investigation. Self-heroics aside what I would I do? What would you do? When Chaplin’s character starts to tear apart some of his few possessions to form an unbreakable bond with this child; I believe that I would but society today is not built the same way.
One thing that The Kid leaves me with is the memories of the happy ending. This, unfortunately is also one of the many plot holes littered throughout the film. After we are introduced to the mother we meet the “man”. This is never revisited since the cut that I watched was based on a much later cut of the film. I really wonder why it was left. Though, now that I type this I am fairly sure I figured it out, Chaplin is much smarter than me; I will leave this for your to figure our on your own.
If you haven’t watched this, or many other Chaplin films, you really should make a little time for them and at 53 minutes you would be better off watching this than much of the hour long broadcast television options. It is important, though, that you are mindful of the edition of The Kid you watch. The streaming version you can find at Amazon looks like garbage and you would be better off watching the Criterion version on Hulu, or better yet ponying up for the blu-ray which is the same quality as Hulu but it will be a technically better experience. In additional to better quality the disc is also jam-packed with several hours of special features including a nonsensical short, a commissioned wedding present, featuring Chaplin and Jackie Coogan (who plays the eponymous Kid).
You will not regret adding The Kid to your collection.