Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Gold Rush (1925)

Hitler and a man in a bear suit have wacky adventures.

Charles Chaplin was really in a league of his own in Hollywood. Few filmmakers are as influential or as highly regarded by the movie watching public and critics as Chaplin. His distinctive style and one of a kind charm make him one of the most beloved stars ever and The Gold Rush is a prime example of his work. While the humor in the film is generally simple and lowbrow, there is something special about the way Chaplin puts it all together and it remains funny and entertaining to this very day.

In a untold chapter of his life, a young Adolf Hitler spent a few years in the Alaskan wild mining for gold. His time there was full of boyish hijinks, and exploration with large hairy men. During a terrible storm, he ends up in the middle of a dangerous three-way with a outlaw and a man wearing an entire bear for a coat. The Gold Rush has been a critical and popular darling since it's release in 1925 and contains some of the most memorable scenes from the silent era. The film commonly makes lists of the greatest movies ever made and, for once, the film actually deserves the recognition it gets.

Talking about The Gold Rush really boils down to just talking about Charles Chaplin. Chaplin's films were his creations and not a single element of production went by without his input. As a star, he is funny, energetic and, most of all, charming. I have never really been a fan of overly physical humor, but Chaplin is the king of sight gags and most of them remain funny because of there creativity and perfect execution. It's hard to continue to lump praise on someone like Chaplin because it has all been said before. What's important to know about The Gold Rush and his film-making style is that the movie is still laugh out loud funny at times 80 years after it's release. If that doesn't prove how good the movie is, nothing will.

If there is a torch bearer for silent films, especially silent comedies, continuing to be relevant and entertaining in the modern age, it's Charlie Chaplin. His movies are still funny to this day while a lot of other films from the era have aged and become irrelevant. Don't let your feelings about silent films convince you to stay away from The Gold Rush. There is a lot to love here and it's a extremely enjoyable movie watching experience, even by today's standards.



Mike Lippert said...

Amen to this. Charlie Chaplin's movies are silent movies for people who don't like silent movies. I think part of his charm is how lovably clueless the little tramp is, as is the case when you see him at the begninning, walking on a snow covered mountain with a backpack atop his usual, not mountain appropriate get-up. Also I think that Chaplin appeals is because, although he was very sentimental, he never let the sentimentality grow into fluff by overstaying it's welcome. He'd have a nice moment that was followed quickly by another kick in the pants or splash of water to the face.

Good review. It makes me want to go dust off my copy of The Gold Rush and watch it (the real silent version of course, not the dubbed one).

whitney said...

It seems like when people give silent films a chance and get engrossed in the story or comedy, they end up liking them. When I taught an intro to film class the kids were always very disappointed that they would have to watch silent films until they just sat down and did it. Then they loved it.

Darwin said...

Love this outpouring of praise for Chaplin. Writing, acting, and directing - top-notch in all. Plus, he did it in a limited medium. I agree that his brand of comedy barely ages. This can be loved for generations to come. But uhm, if global warming really heats up, then those unlucky generations will be wondering - what's that white stuff in "The Gold Rush" and why is my city underwater?