“Let’s have some fun with our friend, The Little Tramp!”
The Gold Rush was the third film of roughly an hour or more directed by Charlie Chaplin. He went on to direct another 8 such films. He wrote, produced & appeared in all of them, starring in all but his final directorial project, 1967’s A Countess from Hong Kong, for which Marlon Brando was the leading man. Chaplin was a Renaissance film pioneer. He was also an accomplished dancer & musician, winning his one competitive Oscar at the 45th Academy Awards in 1973 for Best Original Dramatic Score for his 1952 film Limelight. Because Limelight wasn’t released in L.A. until 1972, under the Academy’s rules at that time, it was Oscar eligible despite being 20 years old. In 1929, Chaplin also won a Special Award for directing, producing, writing & starring in The Circus at the very first Oscars; and in 1971, at the 44th Oscars, he received an Honorary Award for the incalculable effect he had in making motion pictures the art form of the 20th century. He also received two nominations for the Great Dictator and one for Monsieur Verdoux.
The Gold Rush was originally released in 1925 and pre-dated the first Academy Awards. As a result, when it was re-released in 1942, it was eligible for the 15th Academy Awards. It received nominations for Best Music for a Drama or Comedy and Best Sound Recording. The quality of the re-release is stunning and the sound & music are incredible, especially considering that the reworked film is now 70 years old. In 1992, The Gold Rush was selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, and was voted the 58th Greatest American Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute in 2007.
In The Gold Rush, Chaplin plays The Lone Prospector in search of riches in Alaska at the end of the 19th century. The terrain & weather are harsh and many prospectors turn back. But The Lone Prospector and another prospector, Big Jim, stay the course. Big Jim is rewarded by finding a cache of gold ore just before a terrible blizzard strikes. The Lone Prospector and Big Jim seek shelter and end up together in what seems to be an unoccupied cabin of another prospector. Then the owner returns & mayhem ensues. The plot thickens when The Lone Prospector meets & falls in love with the beautiful showgirl Georgia, played by Georgia Hale, with whom Chaplin was having an affair while the movie was being filmed. Charlie originally penned the role for his second wife, 16 year old Lita Grey, but she was pregnant when filming began & was replaced by Georgia Hale.
There are many great scenes in this wonderful, early comedy. My favorite is the Dancing Rolls segment. It shows The Little Tramp at his best – a brilliant mime able to use the most ordinary items as compelling props. I’m sure you’ll love this historic motion picture. It’s available for streaming on Netflix and rental on Blockbuster.com.