The Kid (1921)
Genre: Silent Family Drama Comedy
Starring: Charlie Chaplin (Gold Rush; Modern Times), Jackie Coogan (Oliver Twist; Huckleberry Finn)
Directed By: Charlie Chaplin (The Circus; The Great Dictator)
Overview: When our lovable tramp finds a baby in a basket with a note asking that they take care of the orphan, he raises the kid himself.
Acting: Child actors. They're a double-edged sword. The cuter they are, the younger they have to be. The younger they are the harder they are to choreograph, to teach the delivery of lines and to be believable. Well I think I've found the perfect medium for the 5 year old actor. Silent Film. Give a kid a brick, tell him to throw it at that window, he'll do it. Make him wear an oversized cap and pour copious amounts of syrup on pancakes, he's a natural. No lines to worry about, just keep smiling. This kid is so cute you'll want to kick his head in, Punch-Drunk Love style.
Cinematography: Some Silent Films are about epic grandeur or surreal expressionism, a film to remember for art's sake. This one is clean, simple, and with an artful little dream sequence that makes you realize that these guys really know what they're doing, even though they aren't showy about it. This is highly professional by today's standards. Just imagine how good this was back in 1921.
Script: Did you know that Charlie Chaplin married 4 times and had 11 kids? He was 73 when his last child was born. Between being given Honorary Officer status from the French for his films and being accused of being a Communist, this guy has led quite an interesting life, but it doesn't end there. After his death someone stole his corpse. It was recovered three months later, but isn't that just a little creepy...
Plot: Good times. So simple even your kids will get it, though watching a five-year-old throw rocks at windows and getting into fist fights might not be something for the younger ones to learn just quite this early. The dream sequence at the end with angels flying around (even getting into antics) is a nice little end touch too.
Mood: The silent era is unsurpassed for having such a specific look. The styles and manners of the actors reveals a little part of history, and for that alone, this is why silent film is so memorable for me. Charlie Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd set quite a standard, and when you see a familiar-looking silent film, you'll know it's one of these guys who planted that seed in the industry.
Which one is getting punished here?!
Overall Rating: 84% (No Kidding)
Aftertaste: As a comic, Chaplin's got it. He adds the element of the girl, but he doesn't make it a cliché. He doesn't always get the girl, and I guess being a tramp, that makes a lot of sense, it's more realistic. Seeing the life of a kid cared for and loved, but with the law stepping in because someone somewhere decided that this was not the right life for a child is also a nice political statement, and it's always nice to have a film with subtext, cause then you can call it art... even Chaplin.