The Kid is a 1921 silent dramedy Comedy film by Charlie Chaplin that featured Jackie Coogan, as his adopted son and sidekick. It was a huge success, and was the second-highest grossing film in 1921, behind The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (see 1921 in film).
The Little Tramp (Chaplin) finds an abandoned baby in an alley and takes care of him. As the child gets older, he becomes the Tramp's partner in crime, scamming people in order to survive. Eventually, however, welfare services attempt to take the boy away, resulting in a desperate search and an emotional reunion.
The Kid is notable as being the first feature length comedy film to combine comedy and drama, as one of the opening titles says: "A picture with a smile, and perhaps a tear..." The most famous and enduring sequence in the film is the Tramp's desperate rooftop pursuit of the agents from the orphanage who had taken the child, and their emotional reunion.
The film made Coogan, then a vaudeville performer, into the first major child star of the movies. Many Chaplin biographers have attributed the relationship portrayed in the film to have resulted from the death of Chaplin's firstborn infant son just before production began. The portrayal of poverty and the cruelty of welfare workers are also directly reminiscent of Chaplin's own childhood in London. Several of the street scenes were filmed in Olvera Street, almost 10 years before it was converted into a Mexican-themed tourist attraction.
After production was completed in 1920, the film was caught up in the divorce actions of Chaplin's first wife Mildred Harris, who sought to attach Chaplin's assets. Chaplin and his associates smuggled the raw negative to Salt Lake City, Utah (reportedly packed in coffee cans) and edited the film in a hotel room there. Before release he negotiated for and received an enhanced financial deal for the film with his distributor, First National Corporation, based on the success of the final film. Chaplin edited and reissued the film in 1971, and he composed a new musical score.
Lita Grey, who portrays a tempting angel in the film, became Chaplin's second wife from 1924 to 1927. Chaplin and co-star Coogan met for the last time in 1972, during Chaplin's brief return to America for an Honorary Academy Award.