There are lots of movies on my List of Shame. If it was released before the ‘60s, there’s a solid chance I haven’t seen it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in it! So you can come here to read about my first experience with movies I feel like I should have probably watched by now. And this isn’t limited to older classics. If it’s a movie I’m interested in, but just happened to miss, Playing Catch-Up is the series where you can find my thoughts on it!
There’s a gaping hole in my personal filmography when it comes to silent films. I’ve seen The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a small number of the shorts from the late 1890s and 1900s from Georges Méliès that they show in college film classes, and 2011 Best Picture winner, The Artist, but other than that, it’s pretty blank for me. So with the amount of Charlie Chaplin movies that show up on lists like the AFI Top 100 or the IMDb Top 250 along with the fact that I feel like I’ve always known Charlie Chaplin’s name, I felt like it was finally time to give one of his movies a try.
I started with The Kid simply because it was the shortest one I could find off my watchlist in a time pinch. And it was rather fortuitous that after some research, it seems like this is one of his earlier, more highly-regarded films.
And it certainly lived up to the hype. Going into this film, I wasn’t particularly excited, since silent films are obviously very different than the types of movies that are being made today, but i’m glad to say that I loved this film. It’s the perfect blend of humor and drama, and it tugs at your heartstrings just as well as a modern “talkie.”
After “The Woman” (Edna Purviance) leaves her young baby in a car outside the hospital with a note asking whoever finds the baby to “love and care for this orphan child,” “A Tramp” (Chaplin) finds the baby and decides to raise him. He names the baby John and five years go by before we see the two of them living together in a small, rundown apartment and conning people for their money. They don’t live a good lifestyle financially speaking, but it’s obvious that they have a great relationship with each other. You’re immediately won over by them and root for them the entire time.
Because these two characters go through some difficult situations. In what has now become a somewhat tired genre, The Kid tells the story of the authorities realizing The Tramp isn’t John’s legitimate father and attempting to take him away from the loving home. Compared to modern movies, it would be Lilo & Stitch or in Gifted, both of which feature higher-ups trying to take a child from their guardian. But even though I’ve seen this type of story 100 times, it didn’t feel old or stale while watching The Kid.
Going into this movie, I wasn’t expecting to genuinely love it as much as I did. For my personal tastes, it just didn’t have a lot going for it. But a day later, boy, am I glad I watched it. Its perfect blend of hilarious physical comedy with genuinely moving drama make it stand the test of time and allow me to understand exactly why it’s been so highly regarded for 100 years now. It even has me looking forward to watching more movies from this era because it erased my bias. The Kid is an excellent film and one that I’m sure I’ll come back to time and time again.