Blind Spot Review: The Gold Rush (1942)
The films of Charlie Chaplin always have an air about them. Chaplin was an iconic character all over the world. He created the persona of The Tramp in multiple films, but it always feels like the same character in different stories. In the case of The Gold Rush, Chaplin is poor wanderer who happens to find himself in situation that could lead him to fortune.
In 1942 movies were all about talking. Talking pictures were all the rage and with Charlie Chaplin being one of the biggest actors of all-time there was an urge to see more talkie films from him. Chaplin and the studios decided to go back and edit The Gold Rush to include voice-over. At the time of its release there wasn’t really a president for going back and changing a film for release. Today it seems as though the pattern is continuing with 3D updates to older films. There is a riveted debate over which version is better (silent vs talkie), but for this review we decided to focus on the talkie version.
The story of Gold Rush finds Chaplin as a Lone Prospector in Alaska searching for refuge from a horrendous storm. There he comes into contact with two other men, one of which is Black Larson (Tom Murray) a hunted outlaw who has hidden stash of gold. The only problem is that the storm has left them no food. This leads to a few sequences of timeless humor that Chaplin was famous for. In one instance they cook a boot and start eating it to prevent starving. It was a brilliant idea and had perfect comedic timing. As their hunger continues, one of the men envisions Chaplin as a chicken. There’s a lot of special effects used in The Gold Rush, but they are mostly camera tricks and amazing they still hold up today.
Eventually the characters go their separate ways and Chaplin ends up in a small village. He ends up falling for a young woman by the name of Georgia and desperately seeks her attention. A lot of physical comedy follows with Chaplin being tormented by another man who has fallen for Georgia.
Chaplin’s movies were always know for their ability to bring smiles to faces all over the world. The Gold Rush continued his acclaimed stature and presented another achievement in his career. While the voice over can be a little too literal and/or direct at times, Chaplin and his family state that this is the definitive version of The Gold Rush. It’s a little tighter than the silent version cutting out some scenes between Georgia and Chaplin. Whatever version is your favorite, The Gold Rush is a fine example of the comedy and heart Chaplin put into all his films.
[images from DVDBeaver.com]