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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush is silent-era movie, a Charlie Chaplin movie, released in 1925. As with many Chaplin movies, the movie was written, and directed by him and starred him in the lead role. It was another of the 'Little Tramp' roles. As per Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush was a movie that he wanted to be remembered by. The movie also starred Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman, Malcolm Waite, and Georgia Hale. Georgia Hale got the role by chance, since Lita Grey was originally selected for the role, but Lita then got married to Charlie Chaplin :-) in 1924, and hence was no longer to be the lead lady for the role. However, during the making of the film, Charlie's marriage to Grey had collapsed, and Hale (who had idolized Chaplin from the beginning) was much more intimate with her leading man.
The movie was a huge commercial success, earning more than $ 4 million at that time. In 1942, Chaplin took the movie into the talkie space, re-releasing the movie with a musical score (that was nominated for an Academy Award), adding a personal narration in his own voice, and doing some more editing to reduce the length of the movie by a few minutes.

The Gold Rush (1925)

Chaplin's previous movie 'A women of Paris' had failed, and Chaplin was looking to see how he could recoup from that. He wanted to make a great movie, something that he would be remembered for. And then he came on the stories of some of the tragedies of the Great Alaskan Gold Rush; with tales of hardship, struggle and tragedy. The movies takes The Tramp in the Yukon, along with many others like him, heading over the Chilkoot Pass (some spectacular shooting in Hollywood sets). He gets stuck in a remote cabin with little supplies, along with another prospector and an escaped fugitive.
In this setting happens one of the most iconic scenes from the silent film era, the eating of a leather boot by a starving man. Another iconic shot from the movie is of the cabin tottering on the edge of a cliff while the inhabitants struggle to get out. You also have the betrayal of The Tramp and the other prospector by the fugitive (who in turn meets his end at the hands of an avalanche).
The Tramp becomes very rich after finding gold. Once he reaches the town, The Tramp thinks that he is falling for a dance-hall girl (Hale), but why would she notice him ? She initially snubs him, but they have a happy ending.

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