THE GOLD RUSH
Review by Michael Jacobson
Charles Chaplin, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain
Director: Charles Chaplin
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono (Silent Version: Dolby Stereo)
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 69 Minutes (Silent: 96 Minutes)
Release Date: July 1, 2003
can be MOST ANNOYING at times…”
Charlie Chaplin could and did say at any given time that a different picture of
his was his personal favorite, the one he most often came back to was The
Gold Rush. So beloved was it to
him, as a matter of fact, that he reissued the original 1925 silent version in
1942 with his newly composed music score and his own narration replacing the
title cards. Both versions are
represented on this DVD.
was this picture so near and dear to the Tramp’s heart?
Maybe because it was the easiest idea to ever come together for him.
In fact, historians note that The Gold Rush was the first picture
Chaplin ever began filming with a pretty much complete script ready to go.
said he first got the idea from looking at a photograph of the Klondike gold
rush while visiting friends and business partners Douglas Fairbanks and Mary
Pickford. He recreated that image
of prospectors winding up and through a distant mountain range like a big snake,
then brought in his Tramp, and the rest was comic history.
Tramp is a lone prospector fighting hunger and the elements to chase the dream
of gold. In the frozen wilderness,
he comes across characters like the villainous Black Larson and the good but
oafish Big Jim (Swain). In town, he
meets up with the lovely dance hall girl Georgia (Hale).
With her, he hopes to strike a romance, while with Big Jim, he hopes to
strike it rich. In both cases, he hopes to stay alive!
plot isn’t much to speak of…the real treat is the parade of classic gags
that have long since found place in our world consciousness.
The boiled shoe Thanksgiving dinner, for one, or the starving Big Jim
hallucinating that the Tramp is a big chicken (funny stuff).
There’s Chaplin’s charming dance with the dinner rolls…a sequence
so popular that movie audiences often demanded that projectionists back up the
film and run it again! And finally,
there’s the teetering cabin, which proved not only how well Chaplin could
build and sustain laughs, but suspense as well!
gags are indelibly well conceived and executed, not only by Chaplin, but by his
supporting players as well. Many
modern audiences still consider The Gold Rush their favorite of the
Chaplin films, and it’s hard to argue the point.
This is a delightful, comic masterpiece from start to finish.
original silent print runs a little longer than the 1942 re-release, mostly
because of the presence of intertitles, but also because Chaplin trimmed a bit
from the beginning and the end for his later presentation.
Purists can decide for themselves which version they prefer; for me,
despite being a silent buff, I have to say that Chaplin’s music and narration
adds an extra element of charm and personality, so it’s the ’42 version for
whichever one you choose, The Gold Rush is one of those landmark early
films that holds up well despite age and the advent of sound.
Chaplin didn’t get to be the world’s most popular celebrity by making
pictures that wouldn’t stand the test of time.
Check it out for yourself, and see if you don’t find yourself laughing
loud and often.
the oldest of the films in the first Chaplin Collection, The Gold Rush shows
a bit more of its age than the others. But
it’s still quite a triumphant new transfer from Warner Bros., besting even the
former CBS FOX release and absolutely burying the countless inexpensive versions
that have been available on home video for years.
Despite a mark here, scratch there, and occasional jump-cut, this DVD
looks amazing for a feature closing in on 80 years of age.
Fans should be thrilled; this one’s a treat.
5.1 remixes for this series are impressive mostly because of the extra oomph
they give to Chaplin’s music. Here,
that’s the main attraction. Though
Chaplin’s narration is in fine form, there is less in the way of synchronized
sound effects than in later pictures, so the surrounding channels mostly open up
the musical score, while the .1 kicks in occasionally for the deep notes.
Less to work with overall doesn’t really mean a significant drop in
quality…and for purists, there’s the original mono soundtrack as well, plus
a new stereo piano score for the silent version.
double disc set boasts plenty of goodies, starting with an introduction by
Chaplin biographer David Robinson and a half hour featurette that looks at the
film today, with African director Idrissa Ouedraogo sharing his thoughts…even
better is seeing a group of African school children watching The Gold Rush for
the first time…their laughter and smiles are priceless!
is also a gallery of some 250 stills, a poster gallery, trailers (including
international ones), and scenes from other entries in The Chaplin Collection.
Of course, the big extra is the inclusion of the longer silent
version of The Gold Rush from 1925, so you can compare and contrast to
your heart’s content!