The Kid

The Kid ★★★★½

As with so many great artists, Charles Chaplin’s work was often simultaneously a culmination of where he’d been and an indication of where he was going. His first feature-length comedy as writer/director/star is introduced onscreen as “a picture with a smile – and, perhaps, a tear,” and he pushes further into the pathos he’d experimented with in some of his short comedies, while still off-setting the sentimentality with healthy doses of rough slapstick. It’s a funny and moving picture, but the real draw is the charming and convincing affection between Chaplin and little Jackie Coogan as the title character. His is one of the all-time great child performances, and their separation (complete with the poor little guy sobbing, in a clearly lip-readable moment, “I want my daddy!”) and reunion mainline the kind of raw, unabashed emotion that sound cinema could rarely convey.