The Gold Rush: Wikis


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The Gold Rush
Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Produced by Charlie Chaplin
Written by Charlie Chaplin
Starring Charlie Chaplin
Georgia Hale
Mack Swain
Tom Murray
Henry Bergman
Malcolm Waite
Music by Charlie Chaplin
Carli Elinor
Max Terr
James L. Fields
Cinematography Roland Totheroh
Editing by Charlie Chaplin
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) June 26, 1925
Running time Taken at 24 frame/s:
Original cut
96 min.
Cut version
82 min.
1942 reissue
82 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $923,000

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.



The Tramp is carving up a boot.

The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) travels to Alaska to take part in the Alaska Gold Rush. Bad weather strands him in a remote cabin with a prospector who has found a large gold deposit (Mack Swain) and an escaped fugitive (Tom Murray), after which they part ways, with the prospector and the fugitive fighting over the prospector's claim, ending with the prospector receiving a blow to the head and the fugitive falling off a cliff to his death. The Tramp eventually finds himself in a gold rush town where he ultimately decides to give up prospecting. After taking a job looking after another prospector's cabin, he falls in love with a lonely saloon girl (Georgia Hale) whom he mistakenly thinks has fallen in love with him. He soon finds himself waylaid by the prospector he met earlier, who has developed amnesia and needs the Tramp to help him find his claim by leading him to the cabin.

Particularly famous scenes include:

  • The Little Tramp, starving, having to eat his boot, a prop made of licorice.
  • The Little Tramp showing a dance to his imaginary dinner guests using two bread rolls stabbed with forks.
  • A house teetering on the edge of a cliff, before its occupants, Chaplin and the prospector, manage to scramble out.

One sequence was altered in the 1942 re-release so that instead of the Tramp finding a note from Georgia which he mistakenly believes is for him, he actually receives the note from her. Another major alteration is the ending, in which the now-wealthy Tramp originally gave Georgia a lingering kiss; the sound version ends before this scene.



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. It is in fact the highest grossing silent comedy film. Chaplin proclaimed at the time of its release that this was the film for which he wanted to be remembered.

Another original release poster.

1942 re-release

In 1942, Chaplin released a new version of The Gold Rush, taking the original silent 1925 film and composing and recording a musical score, adding a narration which he recorded himself, and tightening the editing which reduced the film's running time by several minutes. As noted above, he also changed some plot points. Besides removing the kiss at the end, another change eliminated a subplot in which Charlie is tricked into believing Georgia is in love with him by Georgia's paramour, Jack.

The new music score by Max Terr and the sound recording by James L. Fields were nominated for Academy Awards in 1943.

The Gold Rush was the first of Chaplin's classic silents that he converted to a sound version in this fashion.[1] As revealed in the 2003 DVD release, the reissue of The Gold Rush also served to preserve most of the footage from the original film, as even the DVD-restored print of the 1925 original shows noticeable degradation of image and missing frames, artifacts not in evidence in the 1942 version.

Critical reception

In its original 1925 release, The Gold Rush was generally praised by critics. Mordaunt Hall wrote in The New York Times:

Here is a comedy with streaks of poetry, pathos, tenderness, linked with brusqueness and boisterousness. It is the outstanding gem of all Chaplin's pictures, as it has more thought and originality than even such masterpieces of mirth as The Kid and Shoulder Arms.[2]

In 1992, The Gold Rush was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Pop culture references

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. In more recent times, it was replicated 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".

American Film Institute recognition

Copyright issues

U.S. copyright of the original 1925 version

The original 1925 version of The Gold Rush was registered in the U.S. Copyright Office at the time of its release in 1925. Because the copyright was not renewed when the first term of copyright ended in 1953, the film fell into the public domain in the United States at that time. An article on argues that the 1925 version of The Gold Rush remains in the public domain in the United States.[3] However, that is incorrect. Since 1996 (for the reasons discussed below) the 1925 version of the film is no longer in the public domain.

The 1925 version of The Gold Rush regained copyright protection as a result of the treatment of works by foreign authors under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). The article[3] bases its argument for public domain status on an exception to that treatment based on the relative dates of first publication of a work inside and outside the United States. However, the film obtains its protection by its relationship to another copyrighted work. The 1925 version of The Gold Rush was based upon an underlying unpublished dramatic composition "The Gold Rush, A Comedy Drama in Three Acts" which was separately registered in the U.S. Copyright Office in 1925. While that copyright registration was not renewed either, protection for the dramatic composition was restored in 1996 via GATT and URAA. As a result, the 1925 version of the film (which is a derivative work based upon the copyright protected dramatic composition) is no longer in the public domain since the reproduction, public performance and distribution of it will infringe upon the exclusive rights of the owner of the copyright in the underlying dramatic composition, Roy Export S.A.S.

Copyright of the original 1925 version outside the U.S.

Outside the U.S., copyright protection continues in most countries until 2047 (70 years from Chaplin's death), and in Canada until 2027 (50 years from Chaplin's death).[4][5]

See also


  1. ^ In 1959 Chaplin reedited The Pilgrim as part of The Chaplin Revue, and in the 1970s he reedited, rescored, and reissued The Kid, A Woman of Paris, and The Circus.
  2. ^ Mordaunt Hall, The Gold Rush (review), New York Times, August 17, 1925.
  3. ^ a b discussion of Chaplin post-1917 copyrights
  4. ^ Copyright Act of Canada Term of copyright.
  5. ^ Copyright Law: Duration of Copyright fact sheet, UK Copyright Service, 2004.

External links


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