The Kid is a 1921 Charlie Chaplin film. It featured Jackie Coogan as his adopted son and sidekick. It was a huge success, and was the second-highest grossing film in 1921, behind The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The Kid is about a Tramp (Chaplin) that finds an abandoned baby in an alley and takes care of him. As the baby gets older, they are perfect together and they form little schemes to scam people. d The Kid is notable as being the first feature length comedy film to effectively combine comedy and drama, as one of the opening titles says: "A picture with a smile, and perhaps a tear..." The most famous and enduring sequence in the film is the Tramp's desperate rooftop pursuit of the welfare agents who have taken the child, and their emotional reunion. Audiences of the time were deeply affected by the film and the relationship of the Kid with the much-loved Tramp character, from whom they had not previously seen such emotional depth.
Chaplin and Coogan both give remarkable performances in The Kid. The film made Coogan, then a vaudeville performer, into the first major child star of the movies. Many Chaplin biographers have attributed the genuinely close and touching relationship portrayed in the film to have resulted from the death of Chaplin's firstborn infant son just before production began. The portrayal of poverty and the cruelty of welfare workers are also directly reminiscent of Chaplin's own London childhood. Several of the street scenes were filmed in Olvera Street, almost ten years before it was converted into a Mexican-themed tourist attraction. At the time Olvera was merely a nearly-forgotten, grimy alley, and was well suited to underscore the back-alley squalor prevalent in the film.
After production was completed in 1920, the film was caught up in the divorce actions of Chaplin's first wife Mildred Harris, who sought to attach Chaplin's assets. Chaplin and his associates smuggled the raw negative to Salt Lake City, Utah (reportedly packed in coffee cans) and edited the film in a hotel room there. Before release he negotiated for and received an enhanced financial deal for the film with his distributor, First National Corporation, based on the power of the final film. Chaplin edited and reissued the film in 1971, and he composed a new musical score (considered by many to be one of his finest).
Lita Grey, who portrays a tempting angel in the film, became Chaplin's second wife from 1924 to 1927. The elderly Chaplin and co-star Coogan met for the last time in 1972, during Chaplin's brief return to America for an Honorary Academy Award.
Cast and Credits
Charlie Chaplin ... Tramp
Edna Purviance ... Mother
Jackie Coogan ... The Kid
Tom Wilson ... Cop
Jack Coogan Sr... Pickpocket / Guest / Devil
Henry Bergman ... Empresario
Lita Grey ... Angel of Temptation
Written and Directed by Charles Chaplin
Photographed by Roland Totheroh