The Gold Rush

Chaplin said that The Gold Rush was the film for which he would like to be remembered, and it contains several of his most memorable nuggets of comedy. Into the frozen wastes of the Klondike, where hordes endure hardship in the quest for gold, ventures the Lone Prospector, a familiar little figure with bowler and cane. He finds tenuous shelter in the cabin of a hungry giant, a fellow prospector in whose eyes Charlie is transformed into a wonderfully convincing chicken. In other inimitable, oft-excerpted scenes, our hero is reduced to eating his own boot, performs a graceful soft-shoe with a pair of rolls, and tries to escape a cabin teetering on the brink of an abyss. But The Gold Rush is more than the sum of its moments: Chaplin's comedy of desperation and get-rich-quick fantasies both looks back to the tragic folly of the Donner Party and parallels the mad American hunger for wealth that was then approaching its Roaring Twenties peak.

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