Charlie Chaplin’s film The Gold Rush is not only one of my favorite Chaplin films and my favorite silent films, it’s one of my favorite films of all times. After I watched the 1945 dubbed version yesterday (laughing out loud in a room all by myself), I immediately started the film over and watched all of my favorite parts again.
Like, when Chaplin ties a rope around his waste to keep his pants up while he’s dancing with a sexy lady. Only to find that the rope is attached to a dog that proceeds to follow Chaplin around for the entire dance, getting kicked a few times in the process. (This might be the only time I have ever condoned minor violence against animals. For the sake of laughs.)
Or when Black Larsen is trying to get Chaplin out of the house and wind keeps blowing him back in.
Or – classically – when Chaplin does the rolls on forks dance with the funniest facial expression I swear I’ve ever seen.
It’s obvious that the man is a comic genius. But I think we sometimes overlook his incredible story telling abilities. The scenes that tie all these little funny moments together. Chaplin staring out of his lonely cabin door on New Years Eve while the rest of the town celebrates by singing “Auld Lang Syne” is heartbreaking. He shows the town shooting off guns and raucously partying and then immediately cuts to them gathering in a large, communal circle and contemplating the possibilities of a new year. And the “Little Fellow” isn’t missed by anyone.
While his later work – Modern Times, Monsieur Verdoux, and The Great Dictator – is usually praised higher by film scholars, I find these simple early comedies to be very compelling. When it comes to Chaplin, I don’t think anyone has anything to complain about (besides his multiple affairs and child-bride marrying, I mean).
Check out everyone else’s reviews of the films at the 1001 Movies You Must See Club.