|Producer / Director||Charlie Chaplin|
|The Lone Prospector||Charlie Chaplin|
|Big Jim McKay||Mack Swain|
|Black Larsen||Tom Murray|
Charlie Chaplin commented , "In the Gold Rush I got into a single situation: hunger starving to death eating shoe strings And I thought 'Oh yes, there's something funny in that'."
When he got the idea for the "Gold Rush"
Charlie Chaplin was under tremendous pressure to produce. He had
just lost money making his last film, "A Woman of Paris"
and he was feeling the pressure to produce in the face of increasing
competition from the likes of Harold Loyd, Buster Keaton and to
a lesser extent the Keystone Cops. Legend has it that he was inspired
by a combination of pictures of prospectors heading to the Klondike
and stories of the Donner Party. From these images a classic silent
The "Gold Rush" took two grueling years to make (shooting encompassed 15 months with 170 days of
actual shooting and 9 weeks of editing).
Chaplin provides the film with its emotional
center as the little tramp who sets out to make his fortune in
the halcyon days of the Alaskan gold rush. When the little tramp
is lost amidst the vast snowy Alaskan wastes the audience is relieved
when he literally stumbles onto an isolated cabin. Little does
he know that the cabin belongs to the dastardly desperado Black
Larsen. Into this mix Chaplin adds a third character, Big Jim
McKay, who eventually emerges as Chaplin's partner in a huge gold
strike. More importantly the trio's scenes inside the little cabin are some of the funniest sequences ever captured on film. Particularly noteworthy is the "Thanksgiving Dinner" scene in which Chaplin eats his shoelaces (these were made of licorice) and ends up with his foot in the oven. The sequences
where the trio imagines one another as different food stuffs is
delightful in a macabre sort of way.
Silent comedies, more than any other genera
continued to maintain their luster long after talkies became the
fashion. Perhaps this is because the essence of this comedy is
frequently physical and always empathic. The viewer doesn't need
words to understand how Chaplin feels or what he is going through
Chaplin telegraphs these things across the screen. This is a genuine
classic that represents the best of the golden age of comedy.
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