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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Gold Rush - 1925

If you have ever read any of my reviews, it is quite obvious that I am a very big fan of the art of filmmaking. But it has recently been shown to me that my film education has many large holes, especially in the silent film era and foreign films both old and new. So I have been reviewing several of the latter most recently, and I just got the chance to see Chaplin's "The Gold Rush". After over 100 movie reviews, I am excited to say that this is my first ever review on any silent film.

The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) is traveling on his way to join in on the Klondike Gold Rush. But a snow storm has him trapped in a cabin with no food, and a man who has found gold along with a fugitive who is fighting for the same thing. After The Tramp escapes from the cabin, the prospector is knocked out while the fugitive falls off of a cliff and dies. The Tramp finds himself in a city falling in love with a saloon girl (Georgia Hale), and a trick is played on him to make him think she is in love as well. Meanwhile, the prospector wakes up with no memory, and must find The Tramp so that he can help him retrieve his gold.

Surprisingly enough, while I had seen other silent films before, The Gold Rush is not only the first Charlie Chaplin film that I have seen, but the first silent comedy as well. But a cool fact I ran across while reading about The Gold Rush, is it was the highest grossing silent comedy in history, and the fifth highest grossing silent film. Making over four million dollars in 1926, and unlike many classic nowadays it received excellent reviews upon release. It is too bad that the Oscars did not exist at such a time, because The Gold Rush would have easily gotten several nominations at least. However, it was nominated for two Oscars when it was re-released in 1942, but that was not at all giving it the recognition it deserved.

We all know that it is safe to say silent films, whether you are a classic fan or not, are not the easiest of films to watch, especially with the technology we have today. But I was surprised to find that with the short length of this film, The Gold Rush was funny and entertaining all the way through, even 86 years after it was made, and that is saying something. Most of the entire film production is credited to Charlie Chaplin, and to me the most impressive part of The Gold Rush was the writing. To some the scenes in the film may seem way too silly and random for entertainment, but coming up with this stuff is a very difficult thing to do, and making it funny on screen with no sound is even harder. My personal favorite scenes were in the cabins with the bear, and when it was hanging off of the cliff. They were hilarious, and I can honestly say I laughed out loud throughout this film.

The acting by Charlie Chaplin was brilliant. My mother used to always tell me that what makes a person funny is not their words, but more of their facial expressions, and that is absolutely the truth in this case. Chaplin's movements and his expressions were so funny, and so well done it really opened my eyes to a new appreciation for the silent era. This may be the only film of his that I have seen all the way through, but by his performance here alone I can tell you he is a fantastic actor. In many ways, and I know some will disagree with this statement, I think silent acting is harder than today's acting. To confirm my theory I will need to see more silent films, which I plan on doing, but silent acting is in my opinion generally the more difficult task. But either way, in the Gold Rush, Charlie Chaplin's performance is undeniably incredible.

Overall, The Gold Rush is one of the better comedy films I have ever seen, period. Chaplin's writing, direction, and acting are all amazing. The story is funny, very interesting, and as surprising as it was this film never bored me once. I would not recommend it to everyone, because I know silent films cannot be appreciated that much nowadays. But if you like these types of films, and have not seen The Gold Rush, watch it now.

Rating: 9/10


  1. This is a great film Matt. I gave it the same rating. It's a really good comedy.

  2. I'll be watchign thsi one soon as part of the marathon, Chaplin was hilarious, a real comedic genius so I'm really looking forward to this.
    I doubt it will top City Lights and Modern Times, but it still looks great!

    Nice review Matt!

  3. Jericho - glad we agree. Thanks for reading!

    Jack - I will be looking forward to your review. I hear those two are his finest films, and I really need to see them. Thanks!

  4. Silent movies are a massive gap in my movie watching experience, even Chaplin's work has mostly eluded me.
    Thanks to guys like Jack L. and your good self Matt I'm starting to get interested in films from this era so I'll probably watch a couple of silent films this weekend.
    Nice review and I like your blogs new look as well.

  5. "The Gold Rush" IS great and there is a review of it up on my blog. However, I still gotta' go with "Modern Times" as my all-time favorite Chaplin film (that I've seen, of course). Great review Matt...keep up the great work.

  6. Paul S - Sweet! Glad I can assist in getting you interested in something! I should be reviewing another silent film, "Nosferatu" soon. Thanks!

    Movieman - I need to see Modern Times and City Lights, both of those films look brilliant to me. And thanks so much!