Andy Purcell (Wallace Beery) is a washed-up, boozy boxer and compulsive gambler who travels from bout to bout with his adoring son, Dink (Jackie Cooper), in tow. But when Andy lands in a Tijuana jail, he realizes Dink’s welfare is at stake and sends him to live with his mother (Irene Rich). For his tour-de-force performance in the title role, Beery walked away with the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Rating: 8 out of 10
This is a film from 1931, and while some of the language and culture doesn’t translate, the excellent performances and storyline endure.
We’re given a familiar character in today’s films, a former champ, now aging, a drinker who tries to be a good father but repeatedly fails. It reminds me of Ricky “The Ram” in the masterpiece “The Wrestler.” We follow The Champ as he faulters, all while his adoring son, who idolizes, watches and cares for him no matter the lousy situation he’s put in, supports him through it all.
Wallace Beery delivers the definition of an understated performance, and the film is held together by the performance of his son, played with skill beyond his very young years by Jackie Cooper. While some things come off a bit corny, like people saying, “Gee wiz,” it’s easy to overlook. There’s a couple of timeline disconnections you couldn’t get away with today, but this film is a charmer with grit, real drama and characters you root for — despite their faults.
Considered one of Charlie Chaplin’s best films, The Kid also made a star of little Jackie Coogan, who plays a boy cared for by The Tramp when he’s abandoned by his mother, Edna (Edna Purviance). Later, Edna has a change of heart and aches to be reunited with her son. When she finds him and wrests him from The Tramp, it makes for what turns out be one of the most heart-wrenching scenes ever included in a comedy. Chaplin also directs.
Rating: 10 out of 10
This charming and endearing film made our list of Greatest Movies Ever Made, and for very good reason.
This is nothing short of a masterpiece, and while some argue it’s not Chaplin’s best film, it’s still a brilliant piece of film making. And this isn’t a film snob talking. I think anyone would appreciate this motion picture, even after it first showed in theaters more than 90 years ago.
Chaplin wove a charming story of The Tramp and a small boy for whom he cares. They’re little grifters who steal and cheat to get by in a very impoverished world. The two obviously care a great deal for one another, and though no words are ever spoken out loud, the performances are phenomenal.
Chaplin was a once-in-a-generation talent, and “The Kid” is a wonderful example of his gift for storytelling and acting.
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