The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy.
“A comedy with a smile--and perhaps a tear". –Opening Cedits
I have to admit this was my first complete viewing of the mans work, and boy do I regret not watching his work sooner…it’s brilliant! Fundamentally, what Chaplin has created here, is an amazing portrait of love and emotion set against the grimy world of a poverty torn ghetto, done with such meticulous precision that it makes all those million dollar pop-corn flicks seem like- well just a waste of time.
From the very beginning I was enthralled at Chaplins adept skill of storytelling, and truthfulness in showing the meandering and unfortunate life his “Tramp” character embodies. I’m not sure what exact quality that allures me to Chaplin, whether it be his underdog-ness, his ability to fight against oppression or deliver eye popping physical comedy- but whatever it is…I was utterly amazed after the credits rolled.
The story it self is quite simplistic, but in the end almost all great stories are.
It goes a little like this… Enda Purviance- a confused and desperate new mother abandons her newborn baby inside of a limousine hoping the infant will stand a better chance in the home of a wealthy family. After her shameful act, Edna exits, apparently to off herself due to
Unfortunately thugs steal the limo and dump the kid into the belly of the unforgiving ghetto.
Meanwhile, the tramp (Chaplin) wanders bowlegged through the streets before coming across the baby beside a garbage can. After some cop/tramp jokes the story fast forwards five years in the future- where it will stay for the rest of the picture.
It seems that the tramp has taken in and raised “John” (played by the adorable and hilarious Jackie Coogan)…bonding and ultimately creating a wonderful father son duo.
What takes place next, is not only some of the funniest and good-natured father son bonding I have ever seen on film, but also it feels genuinely authentic. (see. The Dinner scenes, The child boxing scene, the heart wrenching adoption fight)
(Critics sight Chaplin and Coogans on screen appeal to Chaplins experience of losing his infant son the year before.)
In the modern era of “money makes it good” movie producing, this piece works as a great opponent of the high finance studio system of today. It takes everything back to the basic emotional level, allowing the audience to laugh, cry and enjoy the magic that Chaplin pours into every shot. His timing is all his own, completely deserving of his moniker of genius, auteur and original.
It also seems funny that in such a PC world leading up to the war, it took a moustacio’d Englishman to show the world the bleak and real side of life. Unlike today where directors and writers slave endlessly with unoriginal and soulless works…Chaplin seems to be an artist of the people…challenging the oppressive, mocking the ego and making light of a truly desperate time.
Its these qualities that will now motivate me to watch and take important notice of this truly masterful filmmaker.
I also recommend – Buster Keatons- One Week & Saphead.