The Kid 1921

The Kid

Critics Consensus

Charles Chaplin' irascible Tramp is given able support from Jackie Coogan as The Kid in this slapstick masterpiece, balancing the guffaws with moments of disarming poignancy.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 43

95%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 15,443

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Movie Info

Chaplin's first full-length feature is a silent masterpiece about a little tramp who discovers a little orphan and brings him up but is left desolate when the orphanage reclaims him. Chaplin directed, produced and starred in the film, as well as composed the score.

Cast & Crew

Granville Redmond
The Man's Friend (uncredited)
May White
Edna's Maid (uncredited)
Tom Wilson
Policeman (uncredited)
Henry Bergman
Night Shelter Keeper (uncredited)
Charles Reisner
Bully (uncredited)
Raymond Lee
His Kid Brother (uncredited)
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News & Interviews for The Kid

Critic Reviews for The Kid

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (43)

  • Formerly it was the custom to say that Mr. Chaplin played down to the level of his audiences. Now it is to be hoped that he will lift his audiences up to this new level of his own.

    August 5, 2020 | Full Review…
  • The story is only of the average order... [but] the quality of the film lies in the joyous fooling of Chaplin and the Kid.

    August 5, 2020 | Full Review…
  • To my mind The Kid is by long odds the best motion picture comedy ever made. It has more than humor; it has tenderness and literary charm. Incidentally it is the first child picture I ever saw that did not give me an acute pain to the bowels.

    March 24, 2019 | Full Review…
  • It was Chaplin's first full-length film, and the action is perhaps too episodic; he hadn't yet mastered the structural demands of the long form. But several of the episodes... are sublime.

    May 15, 2018 | Full Review…
  • While it will move people to uproarious laughter and keep them in a state of uneasing delight, it also will touch their hearts and win sympathy, not only for the star, but for his leading woman, and little Jackie Coogan.

    July 22, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • As always, Chaplin's opulent Victorian sentimentality is made palatable both by the amazing grace of his pantomimic skills and the balancing presence of harsh reality.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Brown

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Kid

  • Oct 14, 2017
    Charlie Chaplin and little Jackie Coogan are delightful in this film, which has a tramp (ahem, The Tramp) finding a baby who has been abandoned by its mother. There are several funny and endearing scenes, including the two of them running a scam whereby Coogan breaks windows by throwing rocks at them, runs off as fast as his little legs can carry him, and then Chaplin is Johnny-on-the-spot to repair them. Another has Coogan getting into a fight with another boy, leading to Chaplin getting into a fight with his (very large, seemingly padded) older brother. Things get sad and pull the heartstrings when the city comes to take Coogan away to an orphan asylum, and it's interesting that the film touches on the rights of an adoptive parent ("are you his father?"). The extended dream sequence towards the end is strange and creative, and I was quite surprised to read later that Lita Grey, who plays the 'flirtatious angel' in that sequence, was only 12 years old at the time. Three years later, when Chaplin (aged 35) had an affair with her (if you call having sex with a 15 year old 'having an affair'), she got pregnant, and the pair married in Mexico. The marriage would only last four years, and Chaplin would divorce her amidst scandal and an enormous alimony payment. I digress. 'The Kid' is a charming film, though a little thin in its plot, and quite brisk at 53 minutes.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 07, 2016
    Like so much of Chaplin's early filmography, "The Kid" takes a plot that could easily be maudlin and injects it with inspired humor and amusing flights of fancy.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 29, 2015
    Having seen several of Charlie Chaplin's films now, The Kid was yet another gem in his long-running list of classic films. I think the opening intertitle said it best "a picture with a smile and perhaps, a tear." It was much like many of his other films in that it blends slapstick comedy with an incredible amount of heart. I watch hundreds of films every year, and the number one thing that bothers me is when a film tries to be something it's not. Whether that means it focuses too much on one genre or tries to do way too much with its script, I can assure you that The Kid does not have these issues. I think this is most prevalent when the Tramp, played by Chaplin, is running across rooftops trying to catch up to his adopted son being taken away by the authorities. I laughed multiple times as Chaplin pulls the clumsy Tramp gags he does so well but it was hard to hold back tears a few seconds later as he reunites for a few moments with his son. The performances are also worth mentioning. Jackie Coogan, who plays the five year old boy, John, that Chaplin adopts, really nails the humor. As far as I know it was the first major role for someone so young, and Coogan gives a memorable performance. The scene in which he is breaking windows for his father to fix and constantly running away from the police officer is very reminiscent of so many of Chaplin's gags. Although Coogan was great, Chaplin is why you watch the film, and I think The Kid is about as personal of a performance as you will get from Chaplin. He had just buried his infant son shortly before filming began on The Kid. His performance is evidently flooded with closeted emotion. Even considering my favorite film of his, City Lights, I think The Kid is his most emotionally powerful film. I think the fact that this film came out in 1921, shows just how ahead of its time it was. Before the film and even a little bit after, adult actors were playing child roles. At least Chaplin and the studio had the guts to put their faith in a young five year old, and I think everyone can agree, it paid off. The film does have some dated elements though. For instance, the bully that the Tramp fights is noticeably wearing a stuffed shirt to make him look buff and more intimidating, something that films would never do now-in-days. Considering the bully punches through bricks and takes down a light post with his bare hands, I guess it was worth it. The slapstick comedy angles are very much a figure of silent films in the 20's. The stupidity of some of the fight sequences are both very dated but endlessly entertaining. So even though The Kid can be taken as a slapstick comedy, I think it's the dramatic and thought provoking elements that make the film so special. To a certain extent, this film deals with the age old question of "who is qualified to be a parent?" Of course, it appears the film does have a happy ending but I wonder what happens next. What happens after the lady gets her son back, does the Tramp lose him forever? What gives her the right to take back her baby after giving it up in the first place? Is the fact that the Tramp poor play a factor into the decision to take the kid away from him? I think it's these questions that make this film more than just a laugh out loud comedy and a film that should be studied and understood to be way ahead of its time. I think that's why I always seem to enjoy Chaplin's films, they deal with political and real life issues without bashing these ideas and opinions over the viewer's heads. To me, The Kid exudes a language unspoken in that it takes on issues and ideas that just weren't looked at in the early 20's. The Kid's balance of humor and heart along with its strong political ideas make it one of Chaplin's best, and certainly his most personal and emotional filled films. 9.1/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Nov 10, 2012
    Although I find unnecessary the dream sequence near the end, this is a great 6-reeler that finds the perfect balance between funny and touching - and the highlight is sweet little co-star Jackie Coogan, who steals every scene he is in.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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