starring Charlie Chaplin and Georgia Hale
November, 1925

If there weren't any celebrities the rest of us couldn't sit around complaining that they weren't as good as they used to be. It hardly seems fair that an experienced and conscientious person should reach the top of the ladder only to have a lot of warped natures, mine included, sit at the bottom watching meanly for the first slip. Maybe the critics are too critical, and then again, possibly the artist is too much an artist.

When I went to see Charlie Chaplin in "The Gold Rush," I went remembering him in "The Kid," "Shoulder Arms," "The Pilgrim," and many others, and just as old men will say that the girls aren't so pretty as they used to be or the songs not half so tuneful, I will say that "The Gold Rush" isn't nearly so funny. In fact, it is called "A dramatic comedy" which, in itself, is a mean trick to play on an audience. It isn't fair to tell them in advance that things are both dramatic and funny, because instead of relaxing to the fun or bracing themselves for the drama, they sit perfectly miserable wondering whether to laugh or to bite their finger nails.

"The Gold Rush" has a plot and a happy ending. I didn't like the story, and I did like the happy ending. Seeing Charlie as a multimillionaire with a valet and two fur coats, both of them on at once, cheered me immensely. One of the coats had an embroidered lining to prove that he was even more ultra than plus.

The picture lacks pep. If this weren't such a nice magazine, I might be even more Anglo-Saxon and say what I really mean. Mr. Chaplin used to be a funny man first and an artist unintentionally, now he is an artist on purpose and a funny man only when it's absolutely necessary. However, I don't think this is entirely his fault. It is the fault of the people who, not content with being hilariously enteretained by him, had to label him an artist to justify their own laughter. If a funny man happens to fall funnier and harder than other funny men, someone is sure to say that he is really great, and by calling him great, they have made him important, and important things are taken seriously, which is not good for a comedian.

Chaplin used to be a ridiculous little man who every now and then seemed a little sad. Now he is a sad little man who every now and then seems a little ridiculous. Personally, I don't like my comedy with strings to it. The Pagliacci idea of the clown whose hollow laughter hides a broken heart has been used so often that I can scarcely go to the circus and see those pitiful creatures through my tears. I don't want to be amused if it's going to be painful.

To be sure, there are wonderful things in "The Gold Rush." I liked the fight in the log cabin over a gun with the gun always pointing at Charlie. I liked his beautiful politeness when he danced with Georgia at the dance hall with a rope tied around his trousers to keep them up, and a large collie dog at the end of the rope. I liked him when he was being ingratiating. In fact, all his comedy is superb. There is only one person who comes near the standard he has set, and that is W.C. Fields.

But Chaplin was mostly too pathetic, not because he couldn't help it, but because he meant to be, and if a man can make an audience scream with mirth, it is a waste of time for him to go about looking wistful. My cry is, "Louder and funnier.":

In his direction, Chaplin made effective use of the name "Georgia." Every time Georgia Hale entered a scene, the name "Georgia" was thrown on the screen. It had the effect of making her seem something very rare and desirable and not just the heroine of a story. Miss Hale is pretty and graceful. Mack Swain is good as Big Jim McKay.

I think Charlie Chaplin is much more important being funny than he is being poignant. I don't want a big fine thing made of my coarse and loud laughter. I feel a little like a lady I know who complained, "That radio music is getting so refined that you can hardly hear it."

Starring Charlie Chaplin and Georgia Hale
September 1925

"The Gold Rush" has depths unknown to Chaplin of "Shoulder Arms" and "The Kid." Makes you laugh to keep back tears, coming seemingly from a saddened and understanding heart. Simplest of stories: just a little tramp who wandered into the Klondike and fell in love with a music-hall girl. For a joke, she pretended to return his affection - and the joke went too far. With remorse came her own love. It is funny; also pitiful. Oddly enough, many critics and writers seem dubious; but directors and actors are crazy about it.

In points of artistic skill and subtle method it seems to me the greatest comedy ever made. The little tramp has starved and saved to give New Years dinner to music-hall girls and they forget to come. So he sits there alone and pretends they are at table with him. Here is the most brilliant bit of pantomime I have ever seen on the screen.

Everything is there; but depends entirely upon the public as to how much they will see. Before the picture was released we heard much of an "epic sweep" which promised to eclipse "The Covered Wagon." Charlie certainly used lots of people in the Klondike trail scenes, but I couldn't see much epic sweep.

Starring Charlie Chaplin and Georgia Hale
November 1925

The Chaplin of the funny shoes, the little derby, the mustache and the trick cane is back with us in a comedy which many will say is his greatest effort. It hasn't the hilarity of "Shoulder Arms" and "The Pilgrim," nor the smart subtlety of his directorial creation, "A Woman of Paris," but if you want a picture technically prefect in its blending of comedy and pathos, its satirical thrusts, its caricature, its keen lampooning of the northland melodramas, and its direction, you will find it here. Chaplin has brought forth some gorgeous touches of comedy, but it is the poignant note which takes the most emphasis.

Starring Charlie Chaplin and Georgia Hale
September 1925

The long-awaited Charlie Chaplin picture, "The Gold Rush," is at last released, and it is an amazingly pleasant thing to see Chaplin once more in person upon the screen.

This new picture of his, which is the first ten-reel comedy ever to be sent out, is one of the best things Chaplin has ever done. The story is a simple and logical one, and some of the "gags" and situations are enormously funny. But the picture is, by no means, Chaplin's best.

Chaplin's individual performance as the lone prospector is, of course, a joy. His gay, pathetic little figure against the great backgrounds of ice and snow moves with all the Chaplin genius for touches of rare comedy and real pathos.

The scene in which Chaplin waits for the dance hall girls to come to dinner is delicately played and it is moving, but it is built upon too thin a premise and upon too unsympathetic an incident to afford the real heart-twist of "The Kid" or "Shoulder Arms."

The final scenes on the boat are among the best in the picture, showing Chaplin as the Alaskan millionaire who still clings to his habit of "shooting snipes."

No doubt everyone will enjoy this new Chaplin offering. It is Charlie Chaplin, lots of him, and it is filled with merriment. But that it is a great development in the comedy field, or that it brings a new comedy era to the screen, certainly is not true. It is simply ten reels of very good Chaplin comedy, which ought to be enough for anybody, but it is no more.

Viewed as a picture, it meets a high standard. As Chaplin's masterpiece, as the result of two years' work touted as a supreme effort, it falls short. But it is infinitely better than "The Pilgrim" or "The Idle Class."

For more information, see "The Gold Rush" as our "Feature of the Month"

Return to reviews page