Public Domain Movie Of The Week: The Kid

So, by 1920, Charlie Chaplin was one of the biggest movie stars in the world. The Tramp was, and arguably still is, the most recognizable character to ever grace the screen. Then in 1921, after a year in production, Chaplin released his first feature film, The Kid. The story about a vagrant who winds up raising an abandoned baby was a smash with audiences and, despite the melodrama, a critical success. It cemented Chaplin’s place in Hollywood for both his comic brilliance and masterful filmmaking.

The ‘Kid’ was played by Jackie Coogan, whose affecting performance made him one of cinema’s first child stars and most heavily marketed actors. Despite earning millions of dollars, Coogan saw very little of the money, which was spent by his parents. His lawsuit against his parents eventually led to the Coogan Bill, which requires a portion of the earnings of child actors be placed in a trust. Coogan eventually faded into movie obscurity, but regained fame as Uncle Fester on The Addams Family.

The Kid is a wonderful movie and Chaplin’s deft filmmaking makes it easy to watch for those with an aversion to silent movies. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll wish you too could live on the streets and have exciting hobo adventures.

You can pick up a copy at the Internet Archive.

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