It is perhaps Chaplin’s most celebrated film, the one that most quickly enters everyone’s heart, with the image of the vagabond and the child confirming the idea of the resistance of the marginalized by tenderness and love. There are those who maintain that it is the best of all his extensive and brilliant work, but this is the type of statement that will always be measured with vast alternatives. He is, in particular, the only one in Chaplin’s entire career, in which he meets a male companion who is equal, with whom he really measures himself and who becomes an accomplice. And yet, this ‘perfect’ film was created in a time of great personal disturbance for the author.
The story begins in 1917, when Chaplin, at a social event, sees a very beautiful girl arrive by the arm of an older man. It was Mildred Harris, a young actress who had been making cinema in Hollywood since she was 11 years old. He was now 16. Chaplin pays no attention to him among the multitude of guests, except when, as he prepares to leave, Mildred asks him if he will give him a ride home. She had been angry with the couple that night, who had left her alone, with no means of return. Chaplin accedes, makes small talk, he thinks she is “a poor goof”, leaves her at the door and goes to Athletic Club, where he lived then. However, as soon as he enters the room, the phone rings: it was Mildred on the other side asking him what he was doing and what he was going to do next.
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