One hundred years ago today, on February 7, 1914, audiences got their first glimpse of Charlie Chaplin’s “Tramp” character in “Kid Auto Races at Venice,” directed by Henry Lehrman. It took less than an hour to shoot, but its impact transcends time. As Walter Kerr observes in The Silent Clowns,
He looked at the camera and went through it, joining the rest of us. The seeds of his subsequent hold on the public, the mysterious and almost inexplicable bond between this performer and everyman, were there.