The Kid (1921)

Today marks 100 years since Charlie Chaplin's full length film directorial debut.

Premiering at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on 21 January 1921, The Kid tells the tale of an orphan boy adopted by Chaplin's famous Tramp character. Together they scrape by on the poverty line, pulling various cons until the authorities intervene.

Chaplin is often celebrated for his comedic genius, and is arguably the biggest star of the silent era. He was always able to squeeze equally as many laughs from The Tramp as he was able to show the more humane and admirable qualities. The Kid is no different; after accidentally finding the child abandoned on the street he simply resigns himself to adoption, having too much of a heart to simply toss the kid away.

As is typical of a Chaplin film, the comedy is always exaggerated - one scene sees a thug punching through a wall - while the sentimentality is understated - another scene sees The Tramp wiping his feet on a rag as a gesture of being house-proud when he enters his squatted accommodation.

The chemistry between Chaplin and a young Jackie Coogan is both incredibly touching and immensely believable. It could be argued that Coogan - who would later go on to star in numerous films, including as Uncle Fester in the Addams Family - is as much responsible for the success of The Kid as Chaplin himself.

Towards the end of the movie Chaplin slightly loses track of the story - arguably a throw back to him being more used to short form film - but in doing so delivers a dream sequence that features clever cutting and impressive stunts, further demonstrating his talent for showmanship.

The opening card states that this is a picture with a smile - and perhaps, a tear. Congratulations Charlie, you got both.

5 stars