Public Domain Movies: The Kid (1921)
Movies in the public domain are movies which are freely distributable and viewable since their copyright has expired, or the owner of the copyright has decided to make the movie available to the public. Sites such as www.archive.org and www.publicdomaintorrents.com are good repositories of this type of movies.
The quality of public domain movies ranges from cheaply shot and poorly acted B-movies to true masterworks of early cinema. The latter is the case with The Kid, by Charlie Chaplin, released in 1921.
The story is simple yet thoroughly enjoyable. A young mother (Edna Purviance) abandons her child before attempting to commit suicide. The newborn is found by the Tramp, played with the usual acumen by Charlie Chaplin. The two form a bond which rests on small everyday scams and tricks to earn a few pennies or a loaf of bread, but when the mother, now an affirmed opera singer, finds out that her kid is still alive, drama ensues.
The kid (Jackie Coogan, later to became Uncle Fester in the Addams family series of the ’70s) is taken away, in a heartbreaking scene, from the Tramp, who goes to the rescue and tries to hide him in a slophouse. However the owner of the establishment goes for the reward offered for the return of the kid, but after a surreal scene involving angels, the happy ending is assured when a kind policemen brings the Tramp to the house of the mother to see again his Kid.
In spite of being almost 90 years old, this movie is a true masterwork and still delights with its clever mix of comedy, drama and good feelings.
It is recommended for everyone, from young kids (if you manage to convince them to watch a silent movie!!) to adults who are not lured by modern-days special effects but are seeking for true storytelling in pictures.