Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Gold Rush


The Gold Rush (Two-Disc Special Edition)

#74 (1998) and #58 (2007) on the AFI List of the best 100 American Movies.

The Gold Rush is a 1925 silent film comedy written, produced, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin in his Little Tramp role. The film also stars Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman, Malcolm Waite.

Chaplin declared several times that this was the film that he most wanted to be remembered for.

Though a silent film, it received an Academy Awards nomination for Best Sound Recording (see re-release below). In 1953, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the claimants failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.

* Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp (labeled as The Lone Prospector)
* Mack Swain as Big Jim McKay
* Tom Murray as Black Larsen
* Malcolm Waite as Jack Cameron
* Georgia Hale as Georgia
* Henry Bergman as Hank Curtis

Lita Grey was originally cast as the leading lady. Chaplin married Grey in mid-1924, and she was replaced in the film by Georgia Hale. Although photographs of Grey exist in the role, documentaries such as Unknown Chaplin and Chaplin Today: The Gold Rush do not contain any film footage of her, indicating no such footage survives.

Chaplin attempted to film many of the scenes on location near Truckee, California, in early 1924. He abandoned most of this footage (which included him being chased through the snow by Big Jim, instead of just around the hut as in the final cut), retaining only the film's opening scene. The final film was shot on the backlot and stages at Chaplin's Hollywood studio, where elaborate Klondike sets were constructed.

Discussing the making of the film in the documentary series Unknown Chaplin, Hale revealed that she had idolized Chaplin since childhood and that the final scene of the original version, in which the two kiss, reflected the state of their relationship by that time (Chaplin's marriage to Lita Grey having collapsed during production of the film). Hale discusses her relationship with Chaplin in her memoir Charlie Chaplin: Intimate Close-Ups.

The Gold Rush was a huge success in the US and worldwide. It is the fifth highest grossing silent film in cinema history, taking in more than $4,250,001 at the box office in 1926, and the highest grossing silent comedy. Chaplin proclaimed at the time of its release that this was the film for which he wanted to be remembered.

The "roll dance" the tramp character performs in the film is considered one of the most memorable scenes in film history, although Roscoe Arbuckle did something similar in the 1917 movie The Rough House which co-starred Buster Keaton. The bit was briefly homaged by Curly Howard in the 1935 Three Stooges film Pardon My Scotch. Anna Karina's character in Bande à Part references it before the famous dance scene. In more recent times, it was replicated by Robert Downey Jr. in his lead role as Charles Chaplin in the 1992 Chaplin as well as by Johnny Depp's character in the 1993 film Benny and Joon and by Grampa Simpson in the 1994 episode of The Simpsons entitled "Lady Bouvier's Lover".

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