The Gold Rush Review

(3.5 STARS)

“The Gold Rush” is charming, funny, and full of heart. It’s immensely enjoyable (I have a hard time imagining someone who wouldn’t like it) and contains some truly timeless scenes (like the one with the cabin teetering on the edge of a cliff). I’ve actually never seen a Charlie Chaplin film until this one (I just never really wanted to before), so I can’t say whether it’s his best, as many believe, but I loved it, and it certainly made me more curious about the beloved comic.

The film chronicles the adventures of the Lone Prospector (Chaplin), a goofy man in search for riches in the Klondike. As he wanders along with his cane, bowler, and Hitler mustache, the Lone Prospector (or Little Fellow as he is also called by the narrator – also Chaplin) stumbles across a cabin, which is the home of Black Larsen (Tom Murray), a notorious criminal. Also making his way to the cabin is Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain), who has defied the odds and actually found gold. The three struggle to survive a terrible storm, as well as a serious lack of food. When the storm breaks, the three depart. McKay goes back to his gold, Larsen goes after McKay’s gold, and the Little Fellow finds his way into a town where he meets the beautiful Georgia (Georgia Hale).

So much of “The Gold Rush” is truly classic cinema. Although I had never seen the film, I have seen the teetering cabin scene, and I’ve heard a lot about the dancing dinner rolls and the eating of the shoe. These gags are timeless because they are genuinely funny. In a time when most comedy seems stale the first time you hear or see it, it’s hard to believe something can remain truly funny for decades and decades.

The film also is really sweet. The romance is deftly handled, and the friendship that develops between the Little Fellow and Big Jim is heart-warming. The film isn’t deep, and it doesn’t really delve into any emotions, but what it does (makes you smile and laugh), it does fantastically.

The only really noteworthy performance comes from Chaplin. In the early days of film, Chaplin was clearly a man among boys. His films have stood the test of time the way few others have. He knows comedy. There’s not much else to say. The man is hilarious, and he crafted, through his acting, writing, and directing, a hilarious motion picture.

I would’ve liked seeing “The Gold Rush” in its original, silent form, but I still loved the re-release. Its brilliant blend of enduring comedy and folksy charm makes it a must-see.

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