I wasn’t prepared for the pathos of Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. I didn’t expect the storyline either. In The Kid a single mother gets out of the charity hospital and doesn’t know what to do. Though it breaks her heart, she abandons her baby in an empty car in front of a wealthy home. It’s understandable since her love drops her photo in a fire and when he pulls it out, decides to toss it back to burn.
Yet comedy ensues and much as he doesn’t want the baby, Chaplin’s Tramp is stuck with it. The Tramp lives in a squalid apartment where just about every possession is broken or tattered. Yet he ingeniously manages to care for the baby. I loved how he rigged up a coffee pot to serve as a bottle.
Five years pass and the two are a family. They make money with a scam. The boy, who’s the epitome of a street urchin in looks, throws rocks through people’s windows. A couple minutes later the Tramp appears and he’s in the window glass business so he’ll repair the window right away. However, the local police are soon wise to them.
Meanwhile the boy’s mother has become a successful opera singer and his father, a famous artist. The two meet each other, but since the boy’s gone, there’s no reason for them to rekindle their love.
The story features so much clever slapstick and imaginative moments. It also plays on viewers heart strings big time, yet the film isn’t depressing. Chaplin and little Jackie Coogan are terrific and their story makes a commentary on how orphans and unwed mothers were treated.
- There’s a 50 to 1 ratio between the footage Chaplin shot and what he used.
- Chaplin discovered Jackie Coogan, when he saw Coogan on stage at a music hall with his father.
- Chaplin had been suffering from writer’s block. Then his wife gave birth to a son, who died three days later. That incident sparked this story.
- Chaplin himself spent time in an orphanage.