The Gold Rush (5 stars)

The Gold Rush

Both versions of the Chaplin classic with lots of features

Given that The Gold Rush was his most ambitious production, and that it was the film he wanted to be remembered for, it’s unsurprising that Chaplin should have returned to it 17 years after he made it in 1925 to re-edit, score and add narration. Presumably the idea was to rework the silent classic for the sound age, but comparing the two versions, both of which are included here, the 1942 version sounds overworked, Chaplin’s boisterous narration in particular an irritating distraction from the action.

But if Chaplin’s tinkering seems unnecessary that only underscores the perfect conception and realisation of the original. The story of the Tramp prospecting for gold in Alaska and falling in love with a beautiful saloon girl (Georgia Hale, swoon) is deceptively simple. Aside from the enormous undertaking of shooting on location and reconstructing the snowy Klondike back in his California studio, Chaplin once again managed the trick of turning real-life tragedy into a wonderfully entertaining farce. Extras: introduction, documentary, photo gallery.

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