The Gold Rush (1925)

A SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

City Lights might be Chaplin’s most exquisite achievement, but he never made a funnier or more beloved film than his own personal favorite, The Gold Rush.

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Directed by Charles Chaplin. Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman, Malcolm Waite, Georgia Hale. United Artists (1925/1942).

Artistic/Entertainment Value

Moral/Spiritual Value

0

Age Appropriateness

Kids & Up

MPAA Rating

None

Caveat Spectator

Slapstick violence and menace.

The high-concept story sends Chaplin’s Little Tramp to the Klondike in search of gold. Almost uniquely in the Chaplin canon, The Gold Rush allows the Tramp the possibility of a truly happy ending, for once successful both in love and money. First, though, he must brave bears, fugitives, starvation, and of course heartbreak.

A smashing success when Chaplin first released it in 1925 at the height of his career, The Gold Rush went on to further heights of popularity in the sound era when Chaplin dusted it off in 1942 and produced a new quasi-sound version, replacing the intertitles with humorous documentary-like narration by Chaplin himself and scoring a new soundtrack for good measure.

In either version, the film is a masterpiece. Purists may prefer the original, but the sound version has its own appeal, and is even more accessible to the youngest viewers.

Kids who’ve seen The Muppets will recognize Chaplin’s classic dinner-roll dance (reprised by Amy Adams). Looney Tunes aficionados may remember homages to the classic gags in which the starving Tramp boils and eats one of his own black boots, and a fellow prospector, delirious from hunger, hallucinates the Tramp as a giant chicken. Then there’s the sequence with the cabin teetering on the cliff, most recently seen in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (better special effects, but visually incoherent).

Comedy, Family, Romance, Silent

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