The Gold Rush (1925) – Charlie Chaplin

 

Welcome to a new book for me to work my way through , this time it’s Great Movies, 100 Years of Film. The book itself is broken into genres and each genre has about 10 films, but with each recommendation (many of which I’ve seen), there are 5 or more additional titles that tie-in so there will be lots to watch again!!

First up is the Comedy genre and it begins with this classic that Charlie Chaplin directed and starred in, putting his famous Tramp character in the midst of the Alaskan Gold Rush.

The Tramp finds himself out in the cold, literally, as he wanders aimlessly through the snow, prospecting in his way, followed by bears, meeting criminals, and then comedically sharing a house in the midst of a snowstorm (the sequence with the open door is brilliant!).

When his gold-hunting rival Big Jim (Mack Swain) is lost amongst the snow, suffering from memory loss, and unable to find his gold-filled claim, the Tramp heads into a frontier town and promptly falls in love with the lovely Georgia (Georgia Hale), a showgirl stuck in the town. She and her friends try to have a little fun at the Tramp’s expense, especially when she learns he’s in love with her.

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The New Year’s Eve party features the famous rolls¬†dancing sequence (known officially as The Oceania Roll Dance), which still entertains some 88 years later (!). There’s also the hilarious sequence where the Lone Prospector/Tramp and Big Jim are starving, so they cook up and eat a shoe. One of my favourite bits, has Big Jim seeing the Tramp as a giant chicken as his hunger gets worse and worse.

The opening sequence of the men climbing over Chilkoot Pass, featured 2,500 vagrants working for a day’s pay, and was apparently the only shot done on location, the rest were fantastic sets.

Chaplin’s film nicely balances story, walking between comedy and melodrama brilliantly and entertainingly.

This was the first time I had watched a Charlie Chaplin film in full, I’ve seen clips and bits from a variety of films, but had never sat down to watch one before, and I’m eager to work on the 5 other Chaplin films that the book recommends with it.

Chaplin’s Tramp embodies the dreamer, the lover, the goof, and more all in his facial expressions and movements, and this film is truly a joy to behold.

Of course, the film has a happy ending!

Big Jim regains his memory and with the Tramp’s help rediscovers his lost claim, after almost falling over the edge of a cliff in a house teetering on the brink. The two share the gold, becoming multi-millionaires, and surprise, surprise, the Tramp even gets the girl.

This one is pure cinema gold.

Do you have a favorite Chaplin film?

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