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The Klondike gold strike of 1897 inspires fortune-seekers to head for Alaska. Joe and Jim, brothers from South Carolina; Lars, escaping a shrewish wife in Michigan; a poor farmer from Kansas; weathered prospectors from Nevada; and countless others leave San Francisco by ship. The Bulkys head north to open a restaurant, bringing a poor relative, Berna, along to help. On board Berna meets Larry and falls in love. The overland route to Dawson City is hazardous and arduous. Each person must carry their own food, a ton of it. That means traveling 80 miles back and forth to advance one mile, carrying 50 pounds a trip. The Chilkoot Pass is one of the worst sections of the trail. In the spring the trekkers take to the rivers, swollen by melting ice. Whitehorse Rapids proves the last and biggest obstacle to reaching the gold fields. But that's not the end of the hardships. Claim jumping, blizzards, fires, and Berna's honor at stake are to be faced before striking it rich. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Impressive photography and nice special effects in a melodrama about the Klondike gold rush in 1898.
The visuals are striking in this silent drama set in the 1898 Klondike gold rush. Whereas Chaplin treated the same setting for comedy in The Gold Rush (1925), with a little dramatic relief, this film concentrates on the hardships and thievery such stakes generally produce, with only a little comic relief. The opening shows people from various parts of the country planning to seek their fortune. All have hopes high, and we hear many say to their loved ones, "I'll bring back a million" as they board the ship taking them to Skagway, Alaska. The film follows only a few of the hopefuls. Karl Dane and George Cooper go into a partnership with Tully Marshall aboard ship; elderly couple Tenen Holtz and Emily Fitzroy plan to open a restaurant and bring distant relative Dolores Del Rio and her blind grandfather, etc. Del Rio meets Ralph Forbes on ship and they fall in love, but marriage will wait until he makes his fortune. Once in Skagway, each has to make the arduous trek to Dawson City through the Chilkoot pass, carrying their own food for the long journey and battling subfreezing temperatures, avalanches and raging rivers from melting snow in the spring. And because each literally must carry a ton of food, it's slow-going as they take a little at a time and return to repeat the process many times in order to travel a short distance. Del Rio's grandfather and others perish in an avalanche, and many turn back. But the main characters make it only to be told to go back: one in a thousand finds gold and there are a hundred men for every job. Del Rio and Forbes eventually decide to go back, but when news of another strike reaches town, he goes with Marshall, Dane and Cooper to try again, leaving Del Rio with Tenen and Fitzroy. The villain and claim-jumper, Harry Carey, buys return tickets for Tenen and Fitzroy only because he has eyes for Del Rio. (By then the Yukon River had been made navagable and a ship came in once a year.) Once they leave he arranges to take the unwilling Del Rio as a mistress with the aid of procuress Doris Lloyd. The men do find gold, and Forbes returns to an angry Del Rio, who forgives him when he tells her the past doesn't matter. But he still has to contend with Carey.
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