IMDB #176 The Gold Rush

The return of Chaplin, with 1925's The Gold Rush! Are you as excited as I am?

I'd like to use this space to mention that Janus Films is preparing a touring Chaplin retrospective, with restored 35MM prints of all of the countdown films we'll cover here and more besides. See them on the big screen, with an audience full of people, also laughing! Bookmark this page and check back for city details (I'm crossing all of my fingers and toes for Milwaukee).

The Key Players:

Pretty well covered the man of the hour when we discussed The Kid. He costars with Georgia Hale, whose career didn't make the transition to sound.

Screw the regular format today. I'm just going to answer some pertinent questions to our classic subject matter.

What's The Gold Rush About?

The Tramp heads north to take part in the Alaska Gold Rush, but is waylaid by a blizzard along the way. He dodges a wanted killer, a starving fellow prospector, and strong winds to wind up in a mining town, where he falls in love with a saloon girl (Hale) that initially spurns him. Aw, what rotten luck.

Was He Sleeping With The Leading Lady This Time?

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Of course he was! That's the Chaplin way. They never married, but Chaplin had a long relationship with the sixteen-years-his-junior Hale in the 20s and early 30s.

Did The Gold Rush Inspire Still-Prevalent Pop-Culture Images?

Did it ever. Let's run them down:

1. The Roll Dance:

This endearing bit is actually tinged with a little sadness, as it occurs during a dream in which The Tramp imagines his New Year's Eve dinner party going fabulously well (when in fact nobody showed up). Plus the dance is more intricately choreographed than I expected. Homages including Benny & Joon and The Simpsons

2. Imagining People As Food

When the prospector, dazed by hunger, imagines The Tramp as a giant chicken, it's the first known example of what refers to as Meat-O-Vision, many examples of it are found on that page (fair warning, tvtropes will destroy your free time).

3. Eating Your Own Shoe

Starvation sure was hilarious back in the day. This seems to inspire more direct homages (mostly in Looney Tunes) than a boot-eating trend in general. And the literal cliffhanger at the end, with the cabin teetering on a cliff, doesn't pop up as much either, but it's still a great setpiece.

Was It Successful At The Time?

Was it ever! It's the fifth highest grossing silent film ever, and even Chaplin has named it his favorite among his many works. The years since have only been even kinder, as it works its way up AFI Lists and into the NFR (not to mention our hearts).

Overall: Should It Be Higher, Lower?

Higher! The only question, once we get to Modern Times, City Lights, and The Great Dictator, is which one I will like the best.

Leftover Thoughts:

-Note: This all pertains to the 1925 original version, not Chaplin's 1942 re-edit. No takebacks!

-I think after I finish the 250, I'm going to watch some classic Looney Tunes again, because they're positively rife with references to classic films that obviously went over my head when I was a kid.

Coming Up...

175. Casino

174. The Grapes Of Wrath

173. The Secret In Their Eyes

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