Project Description

Charlie Chaplin: The Kid

A very warm welcome to the first in our series of releases of limited edition Charlie Chaplin photographs focusing on a key Charlie Chaplin film.  

Over time we will build a substantial collection of important Charlie Chaplin photographs—all of which are available to purchase and hang on your walls at home or in your office. 

This first collection focuses on a classic of silent cinema: The Kid.

The images that follow are available to purchase in limited editions as museum-quality archival handmade silver gelatin photographs, in a range of sizes from 10 x 12 inches to 48 x 60 inches.

Scroll down and select an image for full details.


The Kid, released in 1921, is deservedly one of Charlie Chaplin’s best loved—and most acclaimed—films.

The Kid was his feature length directorial debut, and for the first time, Charlie Chaplin combined his trademark comedy with pathos and drama. Explaining this, he wrote: “There had been satire, farce, realism, naturalism, melodrama and fantasy, but raw slapstick and sentiment, the premise of The Kid, was something of an innovation.” 

The feature length format enabled him to develop characters and relationships in greater depth than in his two reelers, and the themes of hardship, love and loss in the film were deeply personal – reflecting both his early childhood in London and the recent death of his son. A large part of the success of the film can be ascribed to Jackie Coogan—only five years old at the time of shooting—who played the role of his adopted son and partner-in-crime.

Chaplin spent longer on The Kid than on any other movie at that point in his career. Filming started in July 1919, and the final edit was finished in December 1920, eighteen months later. From 278,573 feet of film, he created a final cut of 5,250 feet—using just one in every fifty three feet of film footage.

Charlie Chaplin was going through a messy divorce from his first wife Mildred Harris in 1920. This had an unforeseen impact on the editing process—and gave rise to an episode that could have come straight from one of his comedies. In a move designed to keep the film footage outside the ambit of California’s divorce laws, he and his editing team decamped to Utah, reportedly smuggling the film in coffee tins and performing the first edit in a hotel bedroom in Salt Lake City.

Early cinema audiences will have enjoyed 68 minutes of film – or ‘six reels of joy’ as the original movie poster described it. Reviews were sensational. In 1971 Chaplin edited it again, removing approximately 15 minutes of footage which he believed were too sentimental for modern audiences.

For more information on The Kid check out the official Charlie Chaplin website here. 

 About the limited edition photographs

An example of a framed photograph

Each photograph is made by hand in the darkroom by one of London’s top specialist black and white handprinters—one of the small number of professional photo-labs in the world that can make handmade photographs in the very large sizes we are offering as an option.

Each museum quality limited edition photograph is made in the darkroom on Ilford warmtone silver gelatin paper, and each one is available in a choice of four paper sizes; 10 x 12 inches (edition size 35); 20 x 24 inches (edition size 25); 30 x 40 inches (edition size 10) and 48 x 60 inches (edition size 5). The choice of sizes reflects the fact that different people have different space requirements and different budgets.

The photographs are made with a small white border around the image—as you can see from the photograph above. In this example, we show a 20 x 24 inch paper size, with an image 21 inches high.. The edition number and embossed archive stamp are at the bottom and a separate certificate of authenticity also accompanies each photograph.

Prices on the website are shown for unframed photographs. We would be delighted to organise framing for you—just ask us for a quote once you have placed your order for an unframed photograph, and you can then make a choice as to whether you want us to frame your purchase, or whether you will use a local framer.

Photographs are made to order. Please allow up to four weeks between order and delivery for an unframed example. Framing adds approximately two weeks to the process.


 The tramp and the kid

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan: The tramp and the kid
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This is the definitive publicity photograph of Charlie Chaplin as the tramp, and his co-star, five-year-old Jackie Coogan, as the kid—the pair captured sitting on the step leading to the tramp’s shabby attic room.

This was the role that launched Jackie Coogan onto a world stage. He had a short career as a child actor, but went on to achieve renewed fame in his fifties, playing Uncle Fester in The Addams Family. In 1972 the pair were reunited at a Hollywood function to honour Charlie Chaplin’s lifetime contribution to cinema—during Chaplin’s brief return to America. Chaplin, then in his eighties, greeted Coogan, then in his late fifties, with the line: “What a pleasure to see you….little boy.”

The tramp out for a stroll

Charlie Chaplin: The tramp out for a stroll
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Here’s the tramp out for a stroll—his morning promenade—about to discover the abandoned baby. He will attempt to rid himself of the infant, but ends up raising it in his attic garret, and five years on we meet the kid, played by Jackie Coogan.

Filming for this scene took place in December 1919. Many of the scenes in The Kid were filmed in locations around Los Angeles, rather than on Chaplin’s studio lot. The Los Angeles alley where this scene was filmed has been definitively identified by John Bengtson as running east-west between Cosmo and Cahuenga, just south of and parallel to Hollywood Boulevard.

 The tramp and the kid spy on the cop

Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan and Tom Wilson: The tramp and the kid spy on the cop
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The tramp and the kid form a close bond over a five year period, when the tramp raises the kid in his attic room. In order to eke out a living, they become partners-in-crime. The scam—thought to be based on a real-life event in Fred Karno’s (the impresario who brought Chaplin to America) upbringing—worked as follows: The kid throws stones at windows; the tramp is always close at hand with his glass replacement service—ready to help the householder who has suffered the misfortune of a broken window—for a price of course. The duo have to keep an eye out for the cop, played by Tom Wilson.

 The attic room

The attic room
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The shabby attic room set created by Charles D. Hall is central to the early action in the film—the setting for the development of the strong bond between the tramp and the kid. Photographs such as this—which document the empty set where important film action took place—will be a feature of each collection of photographs we launch throughout 2019.

Even though it acts as a simple photographic record of the set layout, it is remarkably evocative—it is impossible to look at this photograph without thinking of the action that took place there. The run-down room with its threadbare furniture, exposed beams, rough floorboards and sloped ceilings was based on Charlie Chaplin’s childhood memories of his London home at 3 Pownall Terrace, on Kennington Road, where he lived with his mother Hannah and half-brother Sydney when he was twelve.

In his 1974 book My Life in Pictures, Chaplin discussed the garret shared by the tramp and the kid: “A set means so much to me. I think myself into a thing and whatever comes out has been influenced a great deal by environment. This room was based to a large extent on the places in Lambeth and Kennington where Sydney and I had lived with our mother when we were children. Perhaps that’s why the film had some truth.”

 The tramp and the kid in the attic room

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan: The tramp and the kid in the attic room
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Another touching moment captured on film, as Charlie Chaplin lies on the floor of the attic garret and plays with Jackie Coogan in a gap in shooting.

Coogan was a genius at mimicry. Chaplin would show him something, and he could do it first time. This was a revelation for Chaplin, who was well-known for directing his adult actors by acting out their parts himself, and then requiring them to copy every move he made. Coogan could do this time and time again.

In his autobiography Charlie Chaplin explained it as follows: “All children in some form or another have genius; the trick is to bring it out in them. With Jackie it was easy. There were a few basic rules to learn in pantomime and Jackie very soon mastered them. He could apply emotion to the action and action to the emotion, and could repeat it time and time again without losing the effect of spontaneity.”

 The tramp and the kid – tea and pancakes

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan: The tramp and the kid – tea and pancakes
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Early scenes establish the loving domestic relationship between the tramp and the kid. In this scene, the kid has just finished making pancakes and calls the tramp from his bed, where he has been enjoying a cigarette. It is a cold day, and finding a hole in his bedcover with his foot, the tramp puts his head through the hole to turn the bedcover into a poncho—to help him keep warm. 

Despite their dire circumstances, the tramp and the kid always seem to eat well in the film. In this well-known scene, the tramp divides up a huge stack of pancakes, even cutting one in half to ensure that the split is fair. Table manners (of sorts) are not forgotten—the tramp shows the kid how to eat syrup from the blunt side of his knife, not the sharp side.

Charlie Chaplin’s filming method involved making numerous takes of each scene. The Kid has a finished shooting ratio of 53:1 – in other words one foot of film in the finished movie resulted from 53 feet of un-edited film. While he would shoot more total footage in some of his later films (The Great Dictator accounted for almost 500,000 feet), he would never exceed the 53:1 shooting ratio achieved with The Kid.

 The cop spies on the tramp and the kid

Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan and Tom Wilson: The cop spies on the tramp and the kid
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Charlie Chaplin recalled the scene where the kid was getting ready to throw a stone at a window—the first part of the scam. “I told Jackie to watch me, emphasising the points: You have a stone; then you look at the window; then you prepare to throw the stone; you bring your hand back, but you feel the policeman’s coat; you feel his buttons; then you look up and discover it’s a policeman; you throw the stone playfully in the air, then throw it away, and casually walk off, suddenly bursting into a sprint. He rehearsed the scene three or four times. Eventually he was so sure of the mechanics that his emotion came with them. In other words, the mechanics induced the emotion. The scene was one of Jackie’s best, and one of the high spots in the picture.”

 The tramp and the kid on the street

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan: The tramp and the kid on the street
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Chaplin said of Coogan on first meeting: “This is the most amazing person I ever met in my life.”

Charlie originally met the four-year-old Jackie Coogan after seeing his father playing in a Vaudeville show in Los Angeles. He asked the youngster what he did, and the answer bowled him over: “I am a prestidigitator in the world of legerdemain.” 

Chaplin had found his co-star.

 The tramp and the kid reunited

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan: The tramp and the kid reunited
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One of the most memorable scenes in film sees the tramp race over rooftops to rescue the kid from the clutches of the officials from the County Orphan Asylum. When he is re-united with the kid in the back of the asylum truck, the tramp gives the kid a huge hug and a kiss on the lips.

Film historian Jeffrey Vance, regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on Charlie Chaplin, put it beautifully when he wrote: “As the tramp kisses the trembling boy on the lips, tears of joy, relief, and exhaustion stream down both their faces. It is a high point in cinema history.”

 The tramp rescues the kid

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan: The tramp rescues the kid
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After the tramp has chased off the driver of the truck from the County Orphan Asylum, he buttons up his jacket while the kid looks proudly up at his heroic rescuer.

 The tramp jokes with the flophouse manager

Charlie Chaplin and Henry Bergman: The tramp jokes with the flophouse manager
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After their escape from the staff at the orphan asylum, the tramp and the kid are forced to leave their attic garret. To avoid capture, they take temporary refuge in a flophouse. The tramp is clearly delighted to find that somewhere in his pockets he has the required fee for the night—and the prolonged hunt for the coin gives the kid a chance to get in position by a window so that he can gain access. The flophouse manager is played by Henry Bergman, who reads about the $1,000 reward for the safe return of the kid, and takes him to the police station, where mother and son are reunited.

 Heaven – the tramp flies

Charlie Chaplin: Heaven – the tramp flies
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There then follows a dream sequence—where the tramp flies through a heavenly scene—which Chaplin explained had been influenced by J.M. Barrie’s play, A Kiss for Cinderella.

This is how the original synopsis of The Kid—exactly as written by the Chaplin Studio in 1921—covers the dream sequence:

Charlie wakes to find the boy gone. He is frantic and walks the street the remainder of the night until he falls exhausted on his own doorstep. He dreams….

He sees the wretched slum transformed into a veritable fairyland – plenty of everything to eat and drink, to be had for the asking. There is no payment except love. His former friends and enemies are all friends. All have wings and play harps and other celestial instruments.

Jackie is there and he takes Charlie by the hand and then Charlie himself finds he also has wings, strong white wings. And he finds he can fly. But, alas, Sin creeps in and Charlie becomes involved in a fight with his old enemy. He tries to escape – to fly away – but he is ruthlessly shot down – down – down, and awakens to find himself being shaken by the big policeman whom he had eluded over the house tops.

Shortly after the dream sequence, the tramp is awakened by the policeman, who takes him to a private house, where he is reunited with the kid. We see the door close on the mother, the kid and the tramp—and the film ends.

What happens next?

That is left to our imaginations!

 Want to see more?

To find out about limited editions from other Charlie Chaplin films, just click on the green button below.

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Charlie Chaplin ™ © Bubbles Incorporated SA 2019
Photographs © Roy Export S.A.S / Roy Export Co. Ltd
Scans by Cineteca di Bologna / Musée de l’Elysée