My Boy

3029. MY BOY (1921-USA). With JACKIE COOGAN. Little Jackie Coogan was the most famous child star of the silent cinema. Audiences adored him, especially when he played sweet and innocent ragamuffins. His appeal shines through in this, one of his earliest feature films. Coogan’s character is known simply as “The Boy,” a lad who at the outset finds himself on the ocean voyage of a lifetime. He is one of a mass of immigrants sailing across the Atlantic in steerage. However, his is a particularly sad case as his father was killed in France during the first World War and his mother died at the start of the journey. As his ship floats past the Statue of Liberty and docks at Ellis Island, The Boy faces an uncertain future. The sequence at Ellis Island is particularly poignant. Because he is an orphan, word is out that he will have to be deported. Despite this predicament, he manages to elude the immigration authorities and make his way onto the streets of New York. One of his fellow passengers is Captain Bill, a crusty old former ship’s master who also is alone in the world. The Boy attaches himself to Captain Bill even though the old man has no patience for little children. As the story develops, you just know that The Boy will win over the Captain’s heart. Meanwhile, his status as a new American is imperiled as the “whole immigration department” is on his trail. Also key to the story is the manner in which one Mrs. J. Montague Blair comes to fit into the picture of The Boy’s life. Whether falling asleep in the Captain’s arms or taking a bath (which literally allows him to make a clean start in the New World), Jackie Coogan’s presence is never less than appealing in this warm and winning tug-at-your-heart strings drama. “Silent” film with music score. Recommended. 53 minutes. “Silent” Melodrama