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A lone prospector ventures into Alaska looking for gold. He gets mixed up with some burly characters and falls in love with the beautiful Georgia. He tries to win her heart with his singular charm. Written by
John J. Magee <email@example.com>
Mack Swain decided to quit, complaining that he couldn't bear such a vigorous role wearing a thick fur winter suit. Chaplin let him leave, but decided to coax him back. Unfortunately, Swain had already shaved and rather than have him wear a fake beard, Chaplin decided to pause production until Swain regrew his beard. See more »
In the 1942 sound version, Tom Murray's character is spelled Black Larsen on the "Wanted" ad, but Black Larson in the end credits. See more »
THE GOLD RUSH (United Artists, 1925), written, directed and starring Charlie Chaplin, may not be the very best of the Chaplin feature comedies of the silent era, but has become the very movie in which Chaplin wanted to be most noted for by future generations. So proud of his achievement, Chaplin reissued this silent film in 1942 with a new music soundtrack which introduced a narration written and spoken by Chaplin himself, eliminating the use of title cards. Then in the summer of 1971, THE GOLD RUSH became the initial movie presented on public broadcasting station's 13-week series of "The Silent Years," as hosted by Orson Welles, from the Paul Killian collection with a new and excellent piano score by William Perry.
THE GOLD RUSH, which is set in the turn of the century, opens with The Lone Prospector (Charlie Chaplin) coming to Alaska. A snow storm drives him into the cabin of "Black" Lawson (Tom Murray), an outlaw. "Big Jim" McKay (Mack Swain), another prospector who has found gold on his claim, is also driven in by the storm and into the same cabin. After much struggle, Larson finds himself having to accept the two men as his guests. Stranded due to the heavy storm, Larson, finds himself chosen to go out for help. While out in the storm, he comes upon a couple of officers looking for him. He gets away by stealing their dog sled, but is later killed in an avalanche. Back to the cabin, Charlie and Larson, almost in near starvation, eventually make a meal out of a large bear. When the snow storm finally subsides, the two men go about their separate ways. Charlie comes to a mining town where he becomes infatuated with Georgia (Georgia Hale), a dance hall girl, causing jealousy from her suitor, Jack Cameron (Malcolm Waite). As for Jim, he has forgotten where his gold claim is, and locates Charlie to help him find it, separating him from Georgia. The results that follow is classic Chaplin.
Aside from a large list of supporting players, which consists of frequent Chaplin character actor Henry Bergman as Hank Curtis, "The Gold Rush" contains many now classic comedy supplements, including the starving Charlie cooking his boot in hot water, and using his shoelace as spaghetti; Charlie's encounter with Georgia; and the near end finale in which Charlie and Big Jim return to the cabin before setting out to find the claim, in which the cabin gets blown away during the blizzard that forces the cabin to be found the next morning halfway over the edge of a cliff which starts to tilt back and forth as the men make their slightest movement. There are tender moments, too, including Charlie awaiting for Georgia and her other friends to accompany him for New Year's Eve dinner, with tears flowing down his cheek when at the stroke of midnight realizes they are not coming. The most famous sequence of the entire movie is the one where Charlie falls asleep and dreams of himself entertaining his dinner guests by using two forks in two potato rolls as his feet and doing a dance for them.
With THE GOLD RUSH being Chaplin's most revived and discussed movie, one must never forget his other artistic achievements that followed, including THE CIRCUS (1928), CITY LIGHTS (1931), MODERN TIMES (1936) and his talkie debut of THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940). Since the advent of home video in the early 1980s, THE GOLD RUSH consists of various editions and different music scores, ranging from the use of piano, organ or orchestra. There are even some editions that have no music track at all, along with some copies running different time lengths, and others eliminating the final closing segment set on the boat in which Charlie and Georgia walk on top of the deck to be interviewed and photographed by the press before the fadeout. The 1942 reissue, being a shorter print with Chaplin's narration, not only was presented occasionally on American Movie Classics, but can also be found on Chaplin's 100th birthday anniversary video edition followed by a 1921 comedy short, PAY DAY. Video or DVD enthusiasts out there certainly will have a major choice to consider as to which copy to have in their collection. But in spite of numerous editions, THE GOLD RUSH is a golden treasure where it had been shown on American Movie Classics (1997-2001) and currently presented on Turner Classic Movies in either format of the shorter 1942 reissue or silent print with the William Perry piano score. While Chaplin is listed in the cast solely as The Lone Prospector, avid lip readers will notice that he is called "Charlie" by his supporting players, especially by Georgia. (****)
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