December 11th, 2009

THE KID (1921) ***

Some broad (Edna Purviance) gets knocked up and can’t care for her newborn baby so she abandons the poor kid.  The Little Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) comes along and tries to pawn it off on several people before finally raising it as his own.  Five years pass and the Tramp and the Kid (Jackie Coogan) run around town pulling scams on people.  The Kid’s mother becomes a star and longs to be reunited with her previously unwanted spawn.  After a couple of near misses, they are finally reunited in the gratuitously happy ending.


There were several things about this movie that stuck in my craw.  Like the opening scene for example.  A title card reads “A woman whose only sin was motherhood” and then we see the woman walking out of a charity hospital carrying her baby in her arms.   Then the image of Christ carrying a cross is superimposed over her.  Good God Chaplin; that’s got to be the single most heavy-handed thing I’ve ever seen in a movie.  I mean Jesus made a choice to die for our sins; this chick is just plain dumb for not using birth control.  (She wouldn’t have been in that position if she used the Pull-Out Method; you know what I mean?)


For the most part, The Kid is just overly schmaltzy and sentimental.  If you like stuff like that; you’ll probably enjoy that shit, but I just want to laugh.  Another thing that bugged me was the stupid angel dream sequence near the end of the picture.  It goes on forever and is utterly pointless. 


But you know what though?  Chaplin brings the funny more often than not.  Besides, there is this one great scene where The Tramp cuts a hole in a blanket and walks around the house wearing it.  Yes folks, you heard me right, Charlie Chaplin invented the Snuggie!  The man was truly ahead of his time.  And for that, I can’t bear to give The Kid any less than Three Stars.


Fun Fact:  Jackie Coogan, who starred as “The Kid” went on to play Uncle Fester on The Addams Family.

MODERN TIMES (1936) ***

An assembly line worker (Charlie Chaplin) has a nervous breakdown on the job, incites a riot, and goes to jail.  While serving time, he foils an escape attempt and is given an early release.  Back on the street, he falls in love with a widow (Paulette Goddard, looking like a stone cold fox) and tries to go back to work to support her.


Everyone always says that Charlie Chaplin is a timeless comedian and Modern Times proves that in spades.  It’s still relevant today with all the rampant unemployment and whatnot.  I’m sure everyone can relate to trying to earn a buck and is able to sympathize with The Little Tramp’s predicament. 


The scenes of Chaplin working on an assembly line are hysterical.  The immortal scene where Chuck goes through the cogs of the machinery is great and there’s a pretty funny part when he gets hooked up to an automated feeding machine.    There’s also some pretty risqué material in there too.  Like when where Chuck tries to ratchet off a fat woman’s nipples.  We also get a hilarious part where Chaplin inadvertently gets high on “nose powder”.  It’s almost as funny as the similar scene in Corky Romano when Chris Kattan gets high on coke by accident.


Whenever Chaplin is in the factory, Modern Times is quite funny but all the romance stuff between the Tramp and Goddard really slows things down and get in the way of the laughs.  While his singing and dancing routines aren’t very funny, I’m willing to give him a Mulligan because the scene where Chaplin gets stuck in the gears is so iconic and memorable.  There’s a reason why you always see that scene in every single Chaplin retrospective.  It’s funny as Hell.


Modern Times is on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films list for 1936 at the Number 4 spot; placing it in between Dracula’s Daughter and Mummy’s Boys.