Film: The Gold Rush

Alone in a crowd.

Charlie Chaplin plays "The Lone Prospector", that is, the Tramp in Alaska during the Alaska Gold Rush. Charlie, blundering around the snowy mountains, winds up stuck in a cabin with considerably more competent prospector Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain). Big Jim and Charlie are reduced to eating Charlie's shoe, and Big Jim nearly eats Charlie before Charlie finally shoots a bear. After eating they part ways amicably. Big Jim stumbles across a very rich gold strike ("a mountain of gold!") as well as fugitive murderer Black Larsen (Tom Murray), who hits Jim in the head, causing him to have amnesia.

Charlie makes his way into the nearest gold rush boom town, gets a job cabin-sitting for another prospector, and falls in love with haughty dance-hall girl Georgia (Georgia Hale). Georgia loves another, ladies' man Jack Cameron, and teases Charlie. Eventually Big Jim, who remembers that he found a mountain of gold but can't remember where it is, runs into Charlie in the town and gets Charlie to lead him back to where the claim was. Will the Lone Prospector find riches and true love?

Considered by some to be Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece. Added to the National Film Registry with the Registry's fourth induction class, in 1992.

The 1925 film can be seen here, and the 1942 sound version can be seen here.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alone in a Crowd: A memorable scene when Charlie first enters the dance hall. He stands at the edge of a crowd of people. Then the music starts playing, and everyone hits the dance floor, leaving Charlie watching, alone.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted. Bears taste better than shoes.
    • Somehow played straight and averted at the beginning, when nearly as soon as the Tramp appears, already only wearing his Tramp clothes in a blizzard and wandering lost in the mountains, he starts getting followed by a bear without noticing. ...but then they just go in different directions after awhile. In the meantime, it is hysterical.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Yup, it's a Happy Ending.
  • The Bully: Jack is a creep who delights in picking on Charlie.
  • Disney Villain Death: Black Larsen.
  • Eating Shoes: Chaplin is the Trope Namer.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • The Gay Nineties
  • George Lucas Altered Version: Chaplin released a new version of this film in 1942 with sound. He added an original score and replaced all the title cards with his own narration. Some alternate shots were used, a key plot point was changed (Georgia's love letter to Jack becomes a love letter to Charlie) and the last scene was cut from the film. The Chaplin estate appears to consider this the definitive version, as it was on Disc 1 of the recent DVD release and the 1925 original was an "extra" on Disc 2.
    • An alternative interpretation is that the silent version was only mastered for video in SD, and it would have been too difficult or expensive to remaster it in HD for the Blu-Ray.
  • Gold Fever
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Charlie gets hammered on whatever's in Big Jim's flask. He wakes up the next morning with a hangover, so when everything starts swaying, that's what he blames it on.
  • Happy Ending: one of the very few pure, unadulterated ones in the Chaplin canon where Charlie not only becomes a millionaire, but gets the girl afterward. It's even lampshaded in the 1942 narration.
  • Heel Realization: Georgia has this when she, her girlfriends, and Jack all barge into Charlie's cabin on New Year's, only to find the elaborate party that he had prepared for them.
  • I Ate WHAT??: Charlie's shoe.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The photographer at the end who tries to stop The Big Damn Kiss, shouting "You're ruining the picture!". This might have been Chaplin expressing mixed emotions about that scene, since he deleted it from the 1942 Re Cut.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: Jim and Charlie's cabin winds up teetering on the edge of a cliff, with Charlie hanging from the door.
  • Meat-O-Vision: Jim sees Charlie as a chicken. Possibly the Trope Maker.
  • Narrator: Chaplin in the 1942 version.
  • New Year Has Come: Charlie plans a fancy party for New Year's for Georgia and her friends. After they stand him up, he wanders down to the dance hall and watches everyone sing "Auld Lang Syne".
  • No Name Given: As usual with Charlie's character.
  • Re Cut: See the details on the George Lucas Altered Version.
  • Secret Test of Character: Although a completely accidental one. Georgia stumbles upon Charlie on the boat, dressed in his tattered prospector's clothes. Believing him to be a stowaway, she tries to hide him from the stewards.
  • Snowed-In: The first cabin sequence, wherein Jim and Charlie are trapped and starving.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Jim, who is whacked on the head by Black Larsen, wanders back into town in a daze, and can't remember how to get to his gold claim.
  • Wanted Poster: How we find out about Black Larsen.
  • Wealthy Ever After: Charlie and Big Jim find the mountain of gold at great personal risk and the story ends with them leaving the Klondike rich.