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The Kid: The Chaplin Collection

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A
Video/Audio/Extras: B-/A+/A-

Directed by: Charles Chaplin
Written by: Charles Chaplin
Produced by: Charles Chaplin
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Jackie Coogan, Edna Purviance, Tom Wilson, Raymond Lee, Charles Reisner, May White
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

Charles Chaplin is, in my opinion, the funniest comedian and the greatest director who ever lived. From his quiet days of trying to cross a street in Venice, California to poking fun at the most evil man in the world, he was a brilliant genius. However, he had his low points too. His first child died three days after he was bored and that hurt Chaplin very much. That terrible incident would later become the inspiration to make one of his most touching films, The Kid which would go on to become one of his biggest hits and make Jackie Coogan one of the first Hollywood child stars.

After a poor mother (Edna Purviance) gives birth to an un-wanted baby (Baby Hathaway), she puts him in a car. Soon, the car is stolen by two criminals who later see the baby and leave him on ground. The Tramp (Charles Chaplin) later appears and finds the baby. At first, he wants to get rid of him, but then changes his mind and decides to raise him as his own. Five Years later, the boy's mother has now become a successful opera singer, but still can't keep her lost child out of her mind. Meanwhile, the Kid (Jackie Coogan) has now become a partner-in-crime with the Tramp. However, when the boy then becomes sick, the authorities take him away. This later leads to a very sad and beautiful ending which we all know Chaplin was famous for.

Charlie Chaplin's most personal feature, The Kid is a wonderfully directed comedy that is a must-see for anyone of any age who wants to check out Chaplin for the first time. Charlie may have gotten top billing, but it's Jackie Coogan's brilliant work as the Kid that should be watched. Coogan gives the best performance ever by an child actor that I have seen. The gags are wonderfully constructed, especially in scenes with the Tramp and the Kid together. Chaplin and Coogan are wonderful on screen and the special features on the DVD show that they are a great relationship off-screen as well. This is a film from 1921, so it's understandable that the picture isn't that great, but Warner does a better than average job at restoring so I give it a "B-." The audio only contains music and sound effects that Chaplin added when he went to release his films in the 1970's, but they're wonderfully preserved on the DVD and deserve the high accolade that is the "A+" rating.

There are many extras on this special edition DVD, all of which appear on Disc Two. Like all the other Chaplin DVDs, the special features start with David Robinson's introduction. Always entertaining, this one doesn't disappoint either. It gives a lot of information on Jackie Coogan and his relationship with Chaplin and the infamous Mildred Harris divorce. Like always, a good featurette. The "Chaplin Today" documentary is next. We start off with what we heard in the introduction along with some information on Chaplin bringing his mother to the United States and him signing up with First National. The rest of the show brings us to Iran where we talk to a filmmaker and his family. We don't understand what the filmmaker is talking about, but his grandson gives some interesting comments, while also imitating Coogan. It's a nice documentary that's also cute.

We then move on to a trio of deleted scenes concentrating on the mother. The first two are rather interesting, but the third one doesn't really work. Overall, I'm glad they were deleted, since the mother isn't a very interesting character. "How to Make Movies" is the next piece we encounter. It's a very well-done film that shows Chaplin going around his daily work and also playing a few rounds of golf. It's fun, and a great history lesson. We follow that with a 1921 Jackie Coogan film called My Boy. In it, Coogan once again plays an orphan who is taken in by an unlikely guardian and soon found by a rich relative. Unlike The Kid, this is a terrible film. It doesn't contribute anything to the DVD and is a waste of disc space.

We then go to the "Documents" section of the disc. The first one shows Chaplin having a backer's party and having Jackie Coogan dance for the guests. It's a fairly entertaining piece that's a nice addition. Next is a fun home movie called Nice and Friendly featuring Chaplin, Coogan, Lord Mountbatten and their friends. It's a very funny show that would have been a nice short released theatrically. We follow that with a very interesting news reel with Chaplin going back to Europe for the first time and a not so interesting piece with Jackie Coogan visiting Paris. The "Documents" domain caps off with a wonderful clip showing Chaplin conducting for the 1972 re-issue of The Kid.

Finally we have the usual finishing extras. We get three trailers and while the first two are great, the third one doesn't even show the film. Strange. Finally, we have some great photos and posters. The disc ends off with short clips from the other films in the Chaplin Collection. It's too bad that Warner had to use perfectly good disk space on placing a terrible film like My Boy as a special feature. Despite that awful addition, the extras receive an "A-" grade. This is a must-own for anyone interested in classic film or curious about silent movies. Go out now and Buy It!

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