Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Gold Rush

Go To

The Gold Rush is a 1925 film directed by, written by, and starring Charlie Chaplin.

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?

Is often cited as one of Charlie Chaplin's greatest works, and reportedly Chaplin's favorite of his own films. He re-released in 1942, in a version crafted for sound that replaced all the title cards with Chaplin's own narration. The newer version also revised a plot point (Georgia's letter) and cut The Big Damn Kiss from the end of the movie.

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

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: When Big Jim and Black Larsen struggle over a shotgun, the gun always winds up pointing at Charlie, no matter where he tries to hide in the cabin.
  • 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 (in the 1925 cut only).
  • The Bully: Jack is a creep who delights in picking on Charlie.
  • Disney Villain Death: Black Larsen falls into a ravine when the ice cracks.
  • Eating Shoes: Chaplin is the Trope Namer.
  • The Gay '90s: Set during the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: Chaplin re-released the film in 1942 with a new musical score. He also added sound effects to the film, and replaced the silent movie title cards with descriptive voice-over narration.
  • Gold Digger: A mild version considering Georgia does not hide that she is looking for a rich husband in the Klondike, but she's a nice enough woman whose love happens to have a price, but Charlie is willing and able to pay it in the end.
  • Gold Fever: A whole town full of people looking for gold in the Yukon in 1898.
  • Gun Struggle: Big Jim and Black Larson struggle for a shotgun while Charlie tries to stay out of the conflict.
  • 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.
  • Imagine Spot: Chaplin's character is playing out the New Years Eve party in his head including being fondled by Georgia. He couldn't be further from the truth.
  • Iris Out: The film opens with an Iris In effect.
  • Large Ham: Jim is a large person so his gestures and dialogue are over-the-top.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After Black Larson attacks Jim, he soon meets his demise when the snow collapses beneath him sending him falling down a cliff.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Between Chaplin and Georgia after both coincidentally board the same boat.
  • 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: A starving Jim sees Charlie as a giant chicken. Possibly the Trope Maker.
  • Mistaken Message: Georgia writes an apologetic love letter to her boyfriend, and he gives it to the Tramp as a cruel prank. The 1942 re-cut version changed this so that Georgia writes the note for the Tramp, making their Last-Minute Hookup less unexpected.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Georgia is left looking very guilty when, after cruelly toying with the Tramp's affections and promising to meet him only to stand him up, she and her friends barge into his (now empty) cabin only to discover the feast he'd laid out for her.
  • 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. The 1942 version narration refers to him as "little man".
  • Pretty in Mink: Georgia and her playmates look fancy in fur coats.
  • 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, and even offers to pay his fare when the stewards catch him.
  • Snowed-In: The first cabin sequence, wherein Jim and Charlie are trapped and starving.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: The film has a pantomime version of it as Charlie eats his boot like it was a chicken.
  • 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.