The Kid
Charlie Chaplin's
1950s British reissue version
From Reel Classic DVD
Review article by Linda Wada - March 2011

Have you ever wondered if the version of The Kid you are watching is the same as audiences saw during Chaplin's peak Hollywood years? Are you hungry to see something different, after getting yet another updated version of the same film? It's time to check out Charlie Chaplin Rarities 'The Kid' from Reel Classic DVD.

This Reel Classic DVD version is not Chaplin's highly restored final version, featuring his added film score. Instead, it's a 1950s British reissue of a version likely edited by Chaplin during his years in Hollywood.

The Reel Classic DVD version of The Kid should be in every serious fan's collection. Contrasted to the final edited 1971 film (in current release by Roy Export), the technical quality is far from perfect, but the interest in this film, is to study Chaplin's edits. To see the scenes deleted from and added to the final edition is revealing.

hill article

Two different discs: One: 'Charlie Chaplin Rarites' that includes 'The Kid', 'Pay Day' and 'Charlie on the Ocean' (pictured left). Two: 'The Great War and The Little Tramp' with 'The Bond', 'Shoulder Arms', and the documentary 'The Sinking of the Lusitania' and 'America Goes Over.' Offered by Mark Roth.
In his later years, Chaplin re-cut this acknowledged masterpiece and re-edited to suit a contemporary audience. Chaplin was a different man in 1971, drawing on the experiences of a lifetime. The younger, more vibrant Chaplin in his 30s and 40s had produced a film with a different feel, something I wouldn't have realized until seeing the 1950s reissue.

Noticeable in this comparison is an adjustment in the Tramp's character. From a more joyful, worried, less perfect, and even aggressive character in the earlier film, to a slightly more reserved, gentleman-like character in the last film. These changes were achieved by using different takes of the same scene, by trimming clips, and even by using an intertitle to change the meaning of what followed.

Chaplin's music score also is a dominant part of the experience of the 1971 film. Who can't hear Chaplin's music and not think of the scene with which it is associated? It's as if they are one in the same.

When you view the earlier silent version, I found the focus more on the story. I noticed there are sequences cut out of the 1971 version that carry more emotional weight than the later edited ones. It is as if the emotion in Chaplin's music had replaced some of the emotion on the screen.

Chaplin said music was always important to him, so when he had the chance to create recorded scores to his earlier silent films, it becomes clear how music plays a role. The editing in the later film was heavily edited toward the music. This is something I didn't strongly notice until playing the films side-by-side. In some cases scenes appeared speeded up or slowed down to fit the music.

By watching and analyzing the edits in the Reel Classic DVD version and current restored version, you will see:
1. scenes Chaplin deleted from the current version
2. scenes that told more about the father and mother of the kid
3. film problems that were covered by added intertitles
4. a scene that was added to the current film, but was not in the earlier one
Sidney Morgan Hill
British Board of Film Censors: From BFI screenonline, Secretary, John Nicholls served between 1956-1958 and President Sidney W. Harris served between 1948-1960.

Because the early version was one of Chaplin's copyrighted films, we are not looking at a film re-edited by some other party. Only Chaplin owned this film, and he approved its release.

As a Chaplin fan, I found it fascinating study. Here is a chance to view his film through the window of the younger filmmaker, and seeing a film his friends and peers saw at the time as the only film available.

Mark Roth, who is offering the Reel Classic DVD collection, believes this version of The Kid is from the late 30s. But I did find through some research of British Censor board members, this film was reissued between 1956-1958.

Chaplin was in Switzerland at the time, so could have done some work on it, before the release, which is clearly the earliest version I know available on DVD that is of good quality. Not perfect, however, as the film has the side cropping issues common with older films (doesn't show all the sides of the original frame), and does show aging.

The Charlie Chaplin Rarities is well packaged and has an original piano score by pianist Matthew John Marshall. This DVD disc includes:

1. The Kid
2. Pay Day
(Earlier edited version, with intertitles showing Edna's role as the Foreman's wife, not daughter.)
3. Charlie on the Ocean - Short film about Chaplin's 1921 trip to London.

If you are interested in more rare Chaplin's films, check out another disc offered by Reel Classics DVD called
The Great War. This separate Chaplin DVD has a wonderful, lively early edited version of Chaplin's Shoulder Arms. After one viewing, it's my favorite version of that film. This version is closer to what Chaplin's close friend Douglas Fairbanks saw, and was so excited about. The Great War disc includes:

1. Shoulder Arms
2. The Bond
3. The Sinking of the Lusitania (documentary)
4. America Goes Over

So, if you are a fan who has seen all of Chaplin' films, and know them by heart, you may be hungry for something different. You will not only find Chaplin, but a list of other rare films available. Check out the selection at Reel Classic DVD.

Below, I have links to some of the scenes with notes on each. It is best when you have both the current Roy Export version and the Reel Classic DVD 1950s reissue.

Note on films viewed for this article:
1. Reel Classic DVD 1950s British reissue of 'The Kid' (60 Mins.)
2. Roy Export Image Entertainment 1990s edition of 'The Kid' (*1 hour and 8 minutes)
3. Roy Export Warner Brothers 2003 edition of 'The Kid' (50 minutes)

Special thanks to Wes Wada for text editing help. *This film does not match the 1950's version. The Image edition had the speed corrected and scenes re-edited back in about the mother and father into the 1971 edited film.

More Chaplin Films
Notes on Scenes


British 1950s

Awkward ass

Tight Scene

The Note

Deleted Edna scene

Edna Camera 2

Is it raining?

Jackie disappears

Trip on curve

Joyful 13

Chaplin flirting

left or right hand

The Missing Bellboy

The odd cut

Intertitle retreat fix

Jackie scene delete

Jackie's Prayer

Tramp's roof slip

Fixing bricks

Tramp's strikes first

Tramp's bow-tie

Dream Clip re-edit

Dream Clip re-edit 2

Click thru the images