“The Kid” Plays with Dramedy

Lila Miller, A&E Editor

“A picture with a smileand perhaps, a tear,reads the opening image of the film The Kid.Charlie Chaplin made his first cinematic debut as director, producer and starring role in The Kid.The film was released in 1921 as a silent film with cuts and was in a traditional black and white composition with subtitled imagery and classical scores for background music.

The film screening of The Kidbrought new appreciation to the film as students and members of the public gathered at the historic Lucas Theatre in downtown Savannah Friday, Feb. 22.

The film opens with The Woman, played by Edna Purviance, carrying a baby and exiting a charity hospital. The scene is then juxtaposed with a cut to an image of Jesuscarrying the Christian cross. The scene fades to black and then centers onto The Man, played by Carl Miller, burning a photograph of The Woman.

The film blacks out once again, revealing just the word Alone.The woman sits on a park bench, looks towards the heavens and prays.

Subsequently, she leaves the newborn baby in the backseat of a well-to-do familys car.

Automobile thieves thwart her plans to give the baby a good life and upon their discovery, they leave the baby in a non-descript alley.
The screen then reads, His morning promenade,signifying the arrival of The Tramp, starring Charlie Chaplin. The Tramp walks along the alley and looks befuddled as he hears a baby crying. He spies a woman with a baby carriage and says,

Pardon me, you dropped something.The woman then beats him with an umbrella for what she mistakenly assumes is The Tramp pawning the baby to off to her. After several unsuccessful attempts to leave the baby off elsewhere, The Tramp takes the infant into his own care. It is then when a letter is revealed in the folds of the babys blanket, Please love and care for this orphan child.With the note, The Tramp is convinced to foster the child.

The film then cuts to the sorrowful mother as she is shown regretting her hasty decision and shows her running back to where she left baby. As she realizes what has happened, she faints in the doorway of the wealthy familys home that she had meant the child to live with.

The Kidthen jumps five years in time later. The Tramp has created a makeshift home for The Kid whom he has named John” and himself.

The middle of the film follows the daily routine of The Tramp and The Kid. They make a modest living by working as a pair by conning local shopkeepers and citizens by breaking windows and then repairing them.

Meanwhile, The Woman, after becoming a wildly successful actress, also becomes a benefactor to the public as a way of making amends of the abandonment of her baby. The screen flashes,

Charity-to-some a duty, to others a joy.

As she hugs orphaned children, she sits on the steps right at the front door of the rooming house of John and The Tramp. She and John exchange smiles, woefully ignorant of the nature of their true relationship and she gifts him a stuffed animal.

The Man, John’s biological father, is now a painter of great prominenceand by chance or Fateas the screen displays; The Woman and The Man meet again.

The ending contains a plot twist but remains a happy one. In Chaplins later films, he does not offer happy endings, but rather opts for more somber tones as he shifts from comedy-drama to mostly drama.

The Kidis a must-watch for film buffs and Chaplin lovers alike. For those unable to make the local showing, The Kidis also available to stream for free on Amazon Prime or can be found elsewhere online.

The Kidis just one film in a series provided by the Lucas Theatre. For more information contact lucastheatre.com or call their box office at (912) 525-5050.