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Charles Chaplin
Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Jackie Coogan, Baby Hathaway, Carl Miller, Granville Redmond, May White, Tom Wilson
Writing Credits:
Charles Chaplin

One heaves rocks through windows. The other happens by in the nick of time to offer his services as an expert window repairman. It's a system that works. So does everything else about this beloved Charlie Chaplin classic whose blend of laughs and pathos changed the notion of what a screen comedy could be.

For the first time as a filmmaker, Chaplin stepped into feature-length storytelling with this tale of the down-but-never-out Tramp (Chaplin) and the adorable ragamuffin (6-year-old Jackie Coogan) who, rescued as a foundling and raised in the School of Hard Knocks by the Tramp, is his inseparable sidekick. Memorable scenes include a lesson in table manners, the bully brawl and the Tramp's angelic dream.

Box Office:
$250 thousand.
Domestic Gross
$2.500 million.

Rated G

Fulscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Monaural

Runtime: 50 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 3/2/2004

• Introduction by Chaplin Biographer David Robinson
• “Chaplin Today” Documentary
• Scenes Deleted in 1971
• “How to Make Movies” Vintage Featurette
My Boy Short
• “Jackie Coogan Dances” Footage
• “Nice and Friendly” Home Movie
• “Charlie on the Ocean” Newsreel
• “Jackie Coogan in Paris” Footage
• “Recording the New Score” Footage
• Photo Gallery
• Poster Gallery
• Theatrical Trailers
• Scenes from Films in the Chaplin Collection


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Kid: The Chaplin Collection (1921)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 18, 2004)

In 1921’s The Kid, Charlie Chaplin presents a simple tale of found love. At the start of the film, a Woman (Edna Purviance) has a baby out of wedlock, and she abandons the child (Baby Hathaway) in the car owned by a rich family. However, gangsters steal it; when they discover the tot, they leave him in a dirty alley.

A Tramp (Chaplin) finds the child and attempts to dispose of him as well. However, he fails and also finds a note from the Woman that requests the recipient “Please love and care for this orphan child”. The Tramp decides to raise the baby, who he names John. In the meantime, the Woman discovers that the posh family doesn’t have the baby, and she freaks.

The film then jumps ahead five years to see life with the Tramp and the Child (Jackie Coogan). The pair work the streets for money; the Child breaks windows that the Tramp then gets paid to replace. We learn that the Woman now is a famous performer who does charity work. This leads her to cross paths with the Tramp and the Child.

After the Child gets sick, the Woman sends a Country Doctor (Jules Hanft) to care for him. When the Doctor discovers the unofficial adoption, he sends authorities from the orphanage, and they take the Child. The Woman comes to visit and she learns the Child’s identity. The rest of the movie examines how the family ultimately will come to be.

The Kid doesn’t attempt much of a story, as much of it seems rather slapstick and cartoony. These elements pop up in many places such as the scenes with the Doctor’s examination as well as a fight between the Tramp and a brawny goon. In the latter, the dude hits so hard that his punch bends a lamppost! In no way does the film attempt much reality.

However, it provides enough good comedy to seem enjoyable, and the interaction between the Tramp and the Child benefits from a nice sense of warmth. We buy the close relationship between the pair, and they connect well. Those elements help make the movie more winning and charming.

Chaplin displays his usual deft touch as a physical comedian. Nobody did that kind of work better, so he pulls off the slapstick in a neat and amusing manner. The movie includes a mix of decent sight gags that seem entertaining.

I must admit my reaction to The Kid is positive but not exceedingly enthusiastic. The movie works well as a whole, but it lacks a certain spark that infuses Chaplin’s best work. Much of this stems from its very short running time; at 50 minutes, it doesn’t have much room for detail or depth. Nonetheless, it’s a likable program that holds up well for the most part.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Kid appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not without flaws, Kid looked excellent for a movie from 1921.

Sharpness seemed consistently good. The occasional slightly soft shot occurred, but this never became a real distraction. Unlike somewhat fuzzy offerings such as City Lights, The Kid achieved satisfying definition the vast majority of the time. Kid also lacked the noticeable edge enhancement of Lights; some minor haloes appeared at times, but these stated minor and failed to distract. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred.

Given the age of the material, print flaws remained remarkably minor. I noticed a mix of small defects. Thin vertical lines popped up at times, and I also saw occasional examples of specks, grit, and blemishes. Nonetheless, these were rather infrequent for a flick of this vintage. I doubt The Kid has looked so clean since it first hit screens.

Black levels looked very good. Dark tones were deep and rich, and contrast seemed strong. The movie exhibited a nicely silvery appearance from start to finish and didn’t suffer from any blandness in that domain. Low-light shots were clear and well delineated. Ultimately, The Kid presented a very positive picture.

For this release, The Kid got a new Dolby Digital 5.1 remix. Most of the audio involved music; the only examples of effects came from the crashing of windows during one scene. The 5.1 version spread out the score to the front side speakers in a modest way. The music presented stereo imaging that still stuck to the center fairly heavily, as the sides kicked in with general elements but nothing too strong. The surrounds did nothing more than lightly reinforce the material; they offered no substantial information.

Recorded in 1971 for a re-release of The Kid, the quality of the music seemed good. The score came across as bright and lively. Highs appeared crisp and well-defined, and the mix boasted some decent low-end material as well. The stereo imaging seemed unexceptional, but the quality of the audio bolstered this mix to a “B” grade.

As a two-DVD package, The Kid packs some good supplements on its second platter. We open with an Introduction from Chaplin biographer David Robinson. In this five-minute and 15-second piece piece, he gives us some general notes about the film and its production. Of particular interest, we learn of the tragic circumstances that inspired Chaplin. It’s a quick and moderately engaging program, though most of the information found here also appears elsewhere.

Entitled Chaplin Today: The Kid, the next piece runs 26 minutes and 10 seconds. For the first 15 minutes, it shows bits from the movie and other Chaplin works plus many archival and historical materials. We learn about its background, important issues in Chaplin’s personal life that affected it, the cast, the long shoot, the movie’s reception, and Chaplin’s 1971 reworking of The Kid.

After 15 minutes, we go to Teheran and hear from filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. He chats about his feelings toward Chaplin’s work and its impact on him. Prior episodes of “Chaplin Today” did the same, but this one’s presentation seems much more satisfying. For one, the others focused too heavily on the comments of modern filmmakers, and those elements offered little. In addition, the editing mixed the two sides so you couldn’t avoid one if you just wanted the other. That doesn’t happen here; if you only want to hear about the making of The Kid, you can easily avoid the parts with Kiarostami. It’s not a great program, but it’s the best of the “Chaplin Today” pieces I’ve seen.

Next we get scenes deleted in 1971. As explained in “Today”, Chaplin cut out three scenes when he reworked the flick. These last 70 seconds, 93 seconds, and two minutes, 55 seconds, respectively. They all concentrate on The Woman, though we also find out what happened to The Man. None of them seems terribly useful, though the one with the former couple is the most intriguing.

Created in 1918, How to Make Movies takes us to Hollywood and Chaplin’s then-new studio. In this 15-minute and 49-second piece, we see a fairly comical look at Chaplin’s typical day. It’s a cute program that remains somewhat valuable for its look at Chaplin’s studio, especially since it shows some actual behind the scenes footage.

Not affiliated with Chaplin, My Boy presents a film that starred Jackie Coogan after he found fame with The Kid. The 54-minute and 54-second movie bears more than a few similarities with Kid and puts Coogan in a familiar role. It’s not very good, but it’s still a cool extra to have here.

The “Documents” domain includes a mix of archival materials somehow related to The Kid. 1920’s Jackie Coogan Dances lasts 75 seconds and shows an impromptu performance from the child actor in front of visiting theater owners. Mentioned during the prior documentaries, Nice and Friendly essentially provides a home movie shot by Chaplin. It includes Coogan plus Lord and Lady Mountbatten and runs 10 minutes, 45 seconds. It’s a simple short and another interesting addition to the package.

Next we get newsreel footage called Charlie on the Ocean. Shot in 1921, we see Chaplin as he takes a trip to Europe in this three-minute, 57-second clip. Jackie Coogan in Paris runs 95 seconds and provides a similar sort of piece. The last element of “Documents”, Recording the New Score takes us back to 1971. In this 110-second snippet, we watch an elderly Chaplin conduct the orchestra for his reworking of the film.

In the trailers area, we get reissue ads. These come in English, German, and Dutch. The latter seems the most unusual because it a) doesn’t shot any material from the movie, and b) comes in a very widescreen format! Overall, it’s a nice little collection of promos.

Inside the Photo Gallery, we get 43 pictures. Some show the shoot, with an emphasis on Chaplin and Coogan. We also get some shots of Chaplin and Coogan from 1935. Film Posters provides more stills, as we see 20 ads from different eras and nations.

Lastly, DVD Two provides a package called The Chaplin Collection. This features short clips from the following flicks: The Kid, A Woman of Paris, The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator, Monsieur Verdoux, Limelight, A King in New York, and The Chaplin Revue.

One nice – and surprising – touch: most of the DVD’s supplements include subtitles in English and a mix of other languages. Other than on DVDs from Paramount and DreamWorks, text accompaniment for extras occurs exceedingly infrequently, so the additional subtitles are much welcomed here.

Not one of Charlie Chaplin’s best efforts, The Kid suffers from a thin plot and not much depth. Still, it presents a sweet little tale of familial love and works well for the most part. The DVD looks great and sounds pretty good too. The package includes a solid set of supplements that will look familiar to fans of other “Chaplin Collection” releases. The Kid will make a nice addition to the libraries of Chaplin fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.7333 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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