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The Gold Rush is pure gold. It was Charlie Chaplin's third feature-length
film, and marked his comeback of sorts following A Woman of Paris (1923),
which he had directed to great critical acclaim but which had been
unsuccessful at the box office because it lacked his signature character The
This movie should be counted among Chaplin's best and most enduring works; many people name City Lights (which I've also seen) as THE best Chaplin movie, but The Gold Rush is still an excellent showcase for one of movie comedy's immortal geniuses.
Having first seen this movie years ago on TV, I saw it again in October 2003 as part of my college's silent-film class, on a poor-quality videotape that often prevented the other students and I from laughing at it because we could barely discern what was happening on the screen.
Even so, I was sufficiently intrigued to buy the GR Chaplin Collection DVD, which has a restored silent version of the film that is so good I haven't even bothered to watch the 1942 sound version that's also on the disc.
The viewing quality of this restored silent version is excellent, although certain minor details are still hard to see, such as the faces of the cards drawn by the Tramp, Jim McKay and Black Larsen as they try to determine who should go out into the blizzard. On the other hand, in the shot of the cabin teetering on the edge of the cliff, the viewing clarity makes clearly visible the wire used to pull the model cabin farther over the edge!
Also, the film seems to skip in the scene when the Tramp dances with Georgia, perhaps due to a transfer problem with the DVD. But these are minor complaints, and certainly the restoration allows for full appreciation of the film.
The first half-hour of The Gold Rush is in itself worth the purchase price, as it contains some of the funniest scenes I've ever seen in any movie. Even the throwaway bits, such as the Tramp trying to use a crude hand-drawn compass, are more genuinely funny than the extreme gross-out gags offered by most contemporary comedies.
And the shoe-eating scene is so famously funny that even people watching it for the first time may feel that they've seen it already: this is in no way a bad thing, but merely reflects the fact that the best silent films long ago entered into the collective memory of our culture.
I don't say this to sound pretentious. I believe that because Chaplin had such influence on the development of movie comedy, that to a certain extent people today may take him for granted. It's hard to approach his work with fresh eyes only because so many people have watched his movies for so many years.
For example, before the success of The Kid (1921), Chaplin's first feature film, the movie industry doubted that audiences would accept a film that blended comedy and drama. In The Gold Rush, Chaplin further explored cinema's potential to be comedy and drama simultaneously. Only he could have distilled humor from scenes of starvation and struggles to survive the ravings of a madman.
The joy of watching this film today stems from seeing how well Chaplin, as both star and director, finds and maintains the right tone and style for his work, negotiating the fine line between comedy and tragedy. This is most evident in the scene when McKay and Larsen struggle for the shotgun in the cabin and the Tramp tries desperately to escape the muzzle's aim: the sequence is undeniably hilarious, yet even today the Tramp's grim predicament is just as likely to horrify the viewer.
One pleasure of silent comedies such as The Gold Rush is that the lack of a soundtrack leaves more to the imagination, in the same manner that old-time radio comedy got laughs from funny sound effects that showed the audience nothing.
When Black Larsen sees the Tramp in the cabin, for example, he enters and slams the door, causing the Tramp to spin around in alarm. This is the kind of joke that could only work in a silent movie, because no door-slamming sound effect could be quite as funny as the piano score imitating the noise, as rendered by Neil Brand on the DVD.
The second act, in which the Tramp gives up prospecting, returns to town and becomes infatuated with Georgia, was probably inevitable, as Chaplin realized he couldn't sustain the entire film at the cabin. Still, he must have drawn much of his inspiration from that one location, because he returns his characters to the cabin in the film's third act.
I don't want to spoil the climax for anyone who hasn't seen it, but I believe that even today it remains one of the most vivid depictions in cinema history of man versus the elements, and Chaplin milked all its potential for comedy and suspense.
Mack Swain is hilarious as Jim McKay, creating a memorable comic image with his ridiculously small boots and high-domed fur coat. Chaplin generously gave him some opportunities to be funny on his own in this film, just as he was content to let Jackie Coogan share the spotlight in The Kid. From what I've seen of City Lights and Modern Times, he was not so generous in his later films, seeming to think that he himself was the whole show.
The Gold Rush may not be a perfect 10 compared to today's more sophisticated stories and special effects. The ending is cheerfully cynical, improbably reuniting two characters and never revealing Georgia's true feelings for the Tramp.
But the bottom line is that The Gold Rush is still funny after almost eighty years, and that's a feat few comedies in any year can ever accomplish. Chaplin, in his ability to extract maximum humor and poignancy from his material, has no equivalent today. What a shame.
Rating: 10 (One of the best movies of 1925.)
The Gold Rush is one of Chaplin's best films, as well as one of his most
famous. It has been said that it is the film that he most wanted to be
remembered by, and it's not hard to see why. Chaplin plays the part of the
lone prospector, a young miner during the gold rush. After getting caught in
a storm, he hurries to the only shelter that he can find, a wood cabin in
the middle of the storm. It turns out that it is already inhabited, and by a
tough criminal named Black Larson, no less, and the scene in which Charlie
and Big Jim, another prospector, insist to Black Larson that they are going
to stay is one of the countless memorable scenes in the film.
Charlie and Big Jim are left alone and without food when Larson goes off to face the storm looking for food (having drawn the lowest card in another amusing scene), and the scenes in the cabin are some of the best in the entire film. There is, of course, the boot eating scene, memorable not only because of its cleverness and effectiveness, but also because while making the film, Chaplin ate so much boot (which was made out of licorice) before he was satisfied with the take that he had to be taken to the hospital to have his stomach pumped. Another thing that was really well done was the special effects. I am still amazed every time I watch the film at how realistic it looks when there is a long shot from outside showing Charlie hanging from the door of the cabin, which is balanced precariously on the edge of a cliff. Also notice the fast paced and very effective music during this scene, the same song that is played in the best scene of the 1996 film Shine, with Geoffrey Rush.
There is also a very noteworthy love element of The Gold Rush, a part of the story that Chaplin generally has much success with in his films. Charlie's amorous interests in Georgia, a dance hall girl, leads to the scene where he performs the famous dance of the dinner rolls, probably the most famous scene in the film, which was also performed very well by Johnny Depp in Benny & Joon. Charlie's relationship with Georgia is also the thing that leads to his presentation of his sympathy for the lower classes, when he meets her on the ship after having become a multi-millionaire. Chaplin's full length films are inherently more famous than his earlier short comedies, and The Gold Rush is one of the best of his full length features. A must see for any Chaplin fan, but The Gold Rush is also a film that anyone who is interested in quality comedy should watch.
Charlie Chaplin's silent film (also re-released with a narration in the
early 1940s) focuses, as usual, on the Little Tramp, and in this case,
his attraction to a chorus girl (Georgia Hale). This is the one where
he eats a boot, along with its laces, and manages to make it appear a
sumptuous meal; as well as creating a dance with bread rolls.
The role of the girl was originally intended for the second Mrs Chaplin, Lita Grey, but her pregnancy ruled her out. Georgia Hale is excellent in her disdain of the unwanted Tramp attentions. Mack Swain appears as Big Jim, who shares a cabin with the Tramp, at one point getting so hungry he imagines his pal as a chicken ready to eat! This film has the spirit of the pioneers and gold-runners, as well as the inimitable spirit of the little hero. As a silent it is one of the best comedies of the time, as a sound film, it is fairly good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If any single figure can fairly be said to symbolize the glory years of
the silent filmsthe cinema's truly international epochit is Charles
Chaplin's indomitable tramp
The Little Fellow, as millions came to
call him, was at once tatty and debonair, brow-beaten and irrepressibly
optimisticand he was, without question, the best-loved international
star in all of film history
His coat was too small, his pants too large, his mustache patently falseand the resultant silhouette instantly recognizable wherever movies were shown Charlie Chaplin's tramp spoke to all walks of lifeand never more eloquently than in such silent films as "The Kid," and "The Gold Rush."
"The Gold Rush" is superb It deals with Charlie's adventures to win the affection of a local dance-hall girl, and his hilarious efforts to avoid being eaten by bears and by prospectors who are bigger and hungrier than he
The most memorable scene is one in which he dines on an old shoe Chaplin's exquisite grace, turned the boiled shoe into a gourmet feast: he carves it carefully, smacks his lips in anticipation, and then eats it with gusto and appreciation, sucking the nails as if they contained the most juices and twirling the laces around his fork as if they were spaghetti
To see Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush is to know enjoyment. One cannot help but enjoy a film as well-done as this! Chaplin said that this was the film for which he wanted to be remembered, and I can see why. It is a masterful blend of comedy, drama, and romance, among other genres seamlessly brought together in one extraordinary picture. Like all great movies, The Gold Rush has more than its share of memorable moments, from the Thanksgiving dinner to the dance of the dinner rolls to the cabin teetering on the edge of the mountain. All of these scenes are brilliant because of The Tramp's flawless physical comedy. He was a master of comedic timing, and he was one of the most graceful physical comedians I've ever seen. Don't get me wrong, this picture is not just three fantastic scenes amongst filler. The film moves along at a brisk pace, following the misadventures of our hero, The Lone Prospector (Charlie Chaplin, of course), as he attempts to hit it big by discovering gold in Alaska. Along his journey through the elements, the prospector meets the notorious Black Larsen (Tom Murray), a wanted criminal willing to do anything to get his hands on some gold. Fortunately, our friend also comes across a fellow prospector, Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain), who has finally defied all odds and struck it rich. But the Lone Prospector's adventures take place not only out in the middle of nowhere. When he is forced back to civilization, he falls in love with Georgia (Georgia Hale), the most beautiful girl in town. Of course, it would be all too easy if no one else was interested in this beauty. Jack Cameron (Malcolm Waite), the handsome lady's man who is not content with every other woman in town by his side; he must have Georgia, as well. Competition arises between the disappointed prospector and the ego-maniacal "lady killer." All of this would be too much for any one of us, but the Lone Prospector handles it all with his uncompromising resilience in the face of insurmountable odds to bring us one of the greatest comedies of all time! I will not lie, I am a fan of Charlie Chaplin's movies, but as objective as I can possibly be, this IS one of the great movies...Essential viewing!
The 1898 Gold Rush to Alaska may have been harsh, but Charlie Chaplin
makes it hilarious. As an unnamed prospector, Chaplin goes through a
series of gaffes while seeking gold in the Yukon. Most famous of course
are the shoe for dinner, the dancing roles, and the cabin teetering on
the edge of a cliff. His companion, Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain) at one
point is so hungry that he believes Chaplin's character to be a
chicken, and before long, a bear enters their cabin. In the midst of it
all, the prospector falls in love with dancer Georgia (Georgia Hale).
A real triumph for Charlie Chaplin! They must have had a lot of fun filming it!
Charles Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" is arguably his finest film. He stars as a wimpy prospector who decides to go to the Klondike in the hopes of striking it rich. What he does not realize is that he may find love (in the form of Georgia Hale) instead of money. In the end that may be all right with him. "The Gold Rush" shows everything that made Charles Chaplin the great performer, writer and director he was. Quite possibly the finest cinematic icon of the 20th Century, Chaplin showed humanity, love and an undying want to entertain all audiences throughout his stellar cinematic career. The movie is exceptional in every way. Although I am not as well-versed with movies from the 1920s as I am with the decades following it, I would still probably call "The Gold Rush" the finest film of that 10-year period. Oh how the cinema misses Charles Chaplin today. 5 stars out of 5.
This silent classic has many strong points - it has a lot of humor,
interesting characters, a good story and good settings. It's the kind of
film that shows how much a master film-maker can communicate in a silent
movie. It overdoes the sentimentality on occasion, but other than that it's
a fine film.
Chaplin himself plays the 'Lone Prospector', and he is joined by several other interesting characters in a frozen north setting that sets up some good adventures and drama. There are some memorable scenes in the prospectors' rickety cabins, plus some other good material.
The version of this that is the easiest to find is the one that Chaplin re-edited in the 1940's, adding his own narration and deleting the title cards, which gives it a slightly different feel. (These revisions probably make it a bit easier to follow for those who aren't used to silent films.) You can tell from Chaplin's narration how fond he must have been of "The Gold Rush", and he had a lot of good reasons to be pleased with it. There are a couple of his later films that might be even better and more timeless, but this one contains everything that defined Chaplin and his art.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In Charles Chaplin's 1925 film, "The Gold Rush", a lone prospector travels to California looking for gold, and entwines himself in adventures and finds Georgia, the woman of his dreams. After many hardships, including a relocating cabin, the lone prospector, played by Charles Chaplin, finds gold and becomes rich, ending in success and unity with Georgia. The time period in which this movie was shot, compared with the technological innovation and the state of the art filming techniques, give this film an undoubted masterpiece feel. The use of up-close shots combined with comedic imagery also brought a new feel to the style of silent cinema. The scene with the cabin shifting, and the camera tilting to reflect the inner cabin, was one of the many stylistic filming techniques that gave "The Gold Rush" such artistic and ingenious appeal. Chaplin's ideas and his vision that he brought to life in the movie "The Gold Rush" make it a great landmark in the beginning of silent films and in film history. The intricate but simple story of "The Gold Rush" brought about many distinct feelings when viewing. It gives feelings of happiness, during scenes where there is comedic relief and slapstick comedy, and also can bring about sadness or pity for the lone prospector when he waits for Georgia on New Year's but she never shows up. It reveals how silent films can become in touch with a person's feelings, making them feel for the protagonist, without having to have dialogue to explain the gestures and plot. These aspects of "The Gold Rush" make it a milestone in the film industry of the modern world.
One of the best Chaplin movies, which means one of the best movies ever made. Good structure and a lot of excellent classic scenes such as `Eating the shoe' and `The Roll Dance'. Both the original version and the second release have their own charm.
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