'A picture with a smile and perhaps a tear' says the opening title of Chaplin's first feature. There's no perhaps about it, what with Charlie struggling to nurture a cast-off illegitimate child in the face of unfeeling cops, doctors and orphanage workers. As always, Chaplin's opulent Victorian sentimentality is made palatable both by the amazing grace of his pantomimic skills and the balancing presence of harsh reality: the drama and the intertwining gags are played out amongst garbage, flophouses, a slum world depicted with Stroheim-like detail. As for the smiles, they're guaranteed too, although the gags don't coalesce into great sequences the way they do in later features.
Cast and crew
Charles Chaplin Edna Purviance Jackie Coogan Carl Miller Tom Wilson Henry Bergman Lita Grey