starring Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan
NEW YORK TIMES
January 22, 1921
Charlie Chapln is himself again at his best, in some ways better than his previous best, and also, it is to be regretted, at his worst, only not with so much of his worst as has spoiled some of his earlier pictures. His return to the screen after more than a year's absence is in "The Kid," which was shown last night at Carnegie Hall as the feature of an entertainment for the benefit of the Children's Fund of the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. In the near future the picture will come to the Strand Theatre for its regular Broadway run.
"The Kid" is not only the longest comedy in which Chaplin has appeared since becoming the best-known figure of the film world, but it is real comedy. That is, it has something of a plot, its people are characters, and the fun of it is balanced with sadness. And Chaplin is more of a comedian than a clown. It is the comedy that has been foreshadowed by the former shorter Chaplin works.
Also, although the screen's unequaled comedian is in no danger of losing his laurels to anyone, haste must be made to mention a new individual in his company, as much of an individual as Chaplin himself, and a source of immense delight. This person is a wonderful youngster by the name of Jack Coogan, surely not more than 6 or 7 years old, and as finsihed, even if unconscious, an actor as the whole screen aggregation of players is likely to show. He is The Kid, and he will be remembered in the same image with Chaplin. They have many scenes together, and every one of them belongs to both of them. Come on, Jack Coogan, there must be more of you.
The blemish on "The Kid" is the same that has marred many of Chaplin's other pictures vulgarity or coarseness. There is only a little of it in the present work, just two scenes that will be found particularly offensive by some. They are funny. That cannot be denied. One laughs at them, but many try not to and are provoked with themselves and Chaplin for their laughing. This is not good. The laugh that offends good taste doesn't win. And these scenes would never be missed form ""The Kid." It has plenty of unadulterated fun to go far and long without them. Why can't Chaplin leave out such stuff? Why don't the exhibitors delete it?
There is less pure horse-play in "The Kid" than in
the other Chaplins. The comedian depends chiefly upon his inimitable
pantomime, and it scores every time. He also gets many laughs
from the ludicrous situatoins which he concocts. There's nothing
clumsy about the picture's continuity. Its "comedy relief"
actually comes as a well-timed relief.
The story is simply about a curious derelict who has an abandoned baby thrust upon him. His life with the child fills most of the six reels and comes to happy issue after a dream of heaven, which for burlesque stands alone.
The competent cast also includes Edna Purviance and Tom Wilson, Chaplin's realiable leading woman and favorite policeman.
Also on the program was the German picture "Passion" with Pola Negri, which rang as true as ever, especially for those who delight in the purity of its acting. Between the pictures, Michio Itow danced, and was well-received.
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