Chaplin in "The Kid Auto Race"
















Many people neglect Chaplin's earlier stuff. I'm not talking about his feature length movies, but more the fact that he started out like many others did, doing short films when the medium was just bursting out. In 1914 the character he would popularize as "The Tramp" in such classics as "City Lights" and "Modern Times" made his big screen debut in " Kid Auto Races" directed by Henry Lehrman. A peculiar debut for Chaplin's character, considering how -although the Tramp here is the main character- he is quite an annoyance to the centrality of the plot and to the audience. Especially given that he is intruding at a kid's event with the parents as the onlookers. Chaplin's Tramp would eventually be much more sympathetic in the later, more popular pictures, but it's intriguing to see him act contrarian to what we would expect from him.

Chaplin's Tramp is a spectator at an auto race in Venice, California. He  keeps getting in the way of the camera and interfering with the race. This causes great frustration to the movie going public, who just wants him to already get hit by one of the race cars. It's a small feat in filmmaking at a time when movies were only getting started and the narrative was only starting to develop into some sort of coherent form. The 11 minutes of "The Kid Auto Race" were a sign of greater things to come for the silent movie star and the memorable persona he would eventually flesh out. This is slight Chaplin, but it's still fascinating to watch "The Kid Auto Race" since this is where it all started.  It's an immaculate moment in cinematic lore.
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