THE KID was Charlie Chaplin's first feature length film as a director.
THE KID was the first feature length comedy film also to be a drama. It combined slapstick with sentiment, something no other director had attempted before.
Chaplin composed the musical score for the film’s soundtrack in 1971. The main theme is similar to a theme from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony. When the film was released with the new soundtrack, Chaplin declared, “I have always said that music is a fundamental factor for dreams, tenderness, irony… I am therefore placing a sort of mirror behind the images and they will be reflected ad infinitum. In fact, The Kid will thus only really be finished in 1972, and until now we will only have seen it in preliminary drafts.” It would seem, then, that it took Chaplin, renowned perfectionist, fifty years to get The Kid just right.
The portrayal of poverty and the cruelty of welfare workers are reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s own childhood in London, making THE KID the most autobiographical film he had made to date.
The working title of THE KID was "The Waif".
Chaplin patiently filmed scenes over and over again until he was fully satisfied. For THE KID he shot over fifty times the amount of film that ended up in the finished picture, and actually filmed for more than 5 months, a huge amount of time back in 1921.
By the time shooting had ended, Chaplin’s wife Mildred Harris had begun a suit for divorce. Determined that her lawyers should not seize the negative of THE KID, Chaplin and his most faithful associates fled California. The film was edited in secret in a hotel in Salt Lake City and an anonymous studio in New York.
Following the release of THE KID, Jackie Coogan became a world celebrity and enjoyed a brief film career as a child actor. As a young adult however he found himself penniless: his mother and step-father had mismanaged his childhood earnings, and what little money was left was eaten up in legal battles. The one good outcome was that Jackie’s much publicised problems led to the introduction of a law to give financial protection to child performers known as «The Coogan Act».
Jackie Coogan was later known for his role as Uncle Fester in the beloved 60’s sitcom The Addams Family.