A lone prospector hopes to strike it rich in the Alaskan
wilderness as he also tries to woo a charming local girl.
The Gold Rush (1925)
Written and Directed by Charles Chaplin
Starring Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray,
Georgia Hale, Malcolm Waite, Henry Bergman
Oscar Nominations - Best Sound Recording,
Best Original Score (Max Terr)
The original 1925 version of Chaplin's The Gold Rush was thought lost to time. Until, that is, a 35mm print was discovered in a private collection. The Criterion Collection was able to reconstruct the entire movie using this dilapidated print and a repurposed score. It's this version of the film I'm reviewing today, not the 1942 re-release with Chaplin's narration and removal of several scenes. The very fact that I even got to watch a movie that at one point was thought lost is a miracle. Add to that the fact that it's nearly 100 years old and still hilarious, relatable, dramatic, and enjoyable.
Chaplin plays his loveable Tramp, who this time is trying to strike it rich in the Alaskan wilderness as a prospector. He ends up sharing a cabin with the increasingly delirious Big Jim McKay (Swain) and the secretly evil Black Larsen (Murray). When Larsen leaves to steal more supplies for himself, the Tramp and Big Jim go crazy with hunger, with Jim thinking his cabin fellow is a giant chicken at one point. There's also the iconic scene where they boil and eat a shoe. The Tramp becomes infatuated with Georgia (Hale), a local girl from town. Georgia sees him as a joke and flirts with him for kicks, even tricking him into thinking she's going to have dinner with him on New Year's Eve. My one gripe with the film is that he ends up with Georgia after he strikes it rich. She was just so cruel to him. It didn't seem fair.
The Gold Rush is another gem from a filmmaker who could really do no wrong when it came to the work. His comedic timing continues to be impeccable, and his work with early special effects, particularly in this film, still holds up. I doubt there's a single comedic actor since who doesn't owe something to Charlie Chaplin, and The Gold Rush is essential viewing.