Ah, the lovely fall semester has begun and I’ve already had to face tons of befuddled faculty, an extreme lack of parking, and returning students who feel that walking across the street while I am stopped to let them pass requires the slowest pace possible. Yes, I hate the start of the semester.
What I do look forward to is the film series that our Humanities department puts on. This semester’s is a doozy: The Films that Changed Films. From Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid to Coppola’s The Godfather, there are so many good movies in this series. I’m going to get to see movies I’ve seen before and movies I’ve never seen. Best of all, I’m seeing them with an audience, the way movies should be seen.
Tonight’s movie is Chaplin’s The Kid. This 1921 film was all Chaplin’s doing. He wrote, directed, and starred in this comedy about a poor man taking care of an abandoned boy. Little Jackie Coogan plays the kid. Coogan will grow up to play Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and Chaplin will go on to create even bigger and better films, but this was the one that broke the comedy mold.
Coming in at 68 minutes– a full-length, six-reel film when comedies were one or two reelers — the movie changed the idea of slapstick comedy. Sure there’s plenty of it, but there’s also some heartfelt emotion mixed in with the comedy. It is sentimental, but it still can get your eyes misty as we watch the Tramp and the Kid overcome odds in a world of poverty.
Other movies I’m looking forward to include Snow White, The Third Man, Citizen Kane, The Best Years of Our Lives, Bonnie and Clyde, Cabaret, High Noon, and Breathless.
So, though I complain about all those students and the beginning of a new semester, I feel rewarded. It’s movie heaven for me.