Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Gold Rush (1925)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Gold Rush (1925)

In Charlie Chaplin's early silent classic, it featured the Tramp's (Charlie Chaplin) trademark look: mustache, baggy pants, bowler hat, and cane; it was Chaplin's own personal favorite film; it was filled with inventive pantomime sequences, slapstick comedy, social satire, and emotional and dramatic moments of tenderness:

  • in the spectacular opening scene, there was a view of an endless trail/line of hundreds of prospectors in the Klondike of Alaska in 1898, in the days of the Klondike Gold Rush, climbing up a mountain through the snow-covered Chilkoot Pass in search of the gold fields; one Lone Prospector (Charlie Chaplin) with his cane was making his own trail on a snow-covered path, unaware that he was being followed by a bear
  • two famished, marooned fortune-seekers, the wandering, starving Lone Prospector and large-sized miner Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain) were introduced; Big Jim made a monumental discovery of gold under the snow at his feet: ("I've found it! A Mountain of Gold!") before a storm blew his tent away; meanwhile, the Prospector sought shelter from the storm in the "lone cabin" of fearsome, bearded trapper Black Larsen (Tom Murray), a violent and "Wanted" man; inside the cabin, the Tramp spotted an old, half-eaten chicken bone and began chewing on it, when Black Larsen entered, caught him and ordered: "Get out of here!"; with the fierce wind blowing straight at him, the Tramp could not make progress toward the door, appearing as if he was on a treadmill; they were interrupted by the arrival of Big Jim who was blown in and out of the cabin by the wind

WANTED Man: Black Larsen (Tom Murray)

The Tramp/Lone Prospector (Charlie Chaplin)

Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain)
  • finally, after the three settled down inside with the cabin doors closed on both sides, Black Larsen ordered the two out and threatened with a fired shotgun; when Big Jim struggled for Larsen's gun, it seemed that the muzzle was always pointed in the Tramp's direction; Big Jim overpowered Larsen and they were allowed to remain, but when the storm raged on for days, Big Jim began to suffer from starvation ("I must have food"), and the Tramp resorted to secretly munching on a lantern's candle (with a sprinkle of salt) before suffering from tell-tale hiccups; Big Jim insisted that one of them must brave the storm to find food
  • the three drew cards in a lottery (the lowest card indicated the chosen person) and Larsen (with a two of spades) was sent out of his own cabin into the wilderness, with his dog, to brave the storm and search for help, food and provisions
  • out in the wilds, Black Larsen encountered two lawmen ("The Hand of the Law") who were looking for him; following a short struggle, he cold-bloodedly shot both law officers with a pistol; he took their supplies and dog sled, and soon after stumbled upon the location of Big Jim McKay's strike claim
  • back in the isolated cabin, the two men left behind celebrated Thanksgiving Day dinner; the Prospector cooked his own right foot's boot in a large pot; he took on airs as if he was a gourmet at a feast; when he served the shoe, he split the sole, cutting it like a filet, and set the smaller lower portion before his cabin-mate and companion; Big Jim greedily switched the plates to get the upper portion of the shoe; the Prospector delicately chewed on the lower sole part, treating it like a delicate piece of fish as he picked his way through the leather - he treated the laces like spaghetti, coiling them about his fork; he daintily sucked the nails as if they were the bones of a game bird

The Tramp Cooking Up His Own Boot For Thanksgiving Dinner

Feasting on His Own Right Foot's Bottom Sole of His Boiled Boot

Sucking on Nails As If They Were a Delicacy
  • soon after when starvation struck again, Big Jim McKay cried out for "Food!" and hallucinated that the Tramp was transformed into a giant, human-sized chicken (in a double-exposure image); the Tramp feared for his life and hid a long kitchen knife under a mattress; Big Jim chased after him with his own dagger and a gun, but then came to his senses and apologized ("I'm sorry, I must be crazy"); however, he reverted to stalking the Tramp with an axe, but the Tramp defended himself with Big Jim's shotgun; during a violent struggle for the gun, a hungry bear fortunately wandered into the cabin, and the Tramp shot and killed it - solving their food problem
  • when the two parted ways, Big Jim found Black Larsen who had stolen his secret mining claim to a "mountain of gold"; with a blow of his spade, Black Larsen knocked Big Jim to the ground unconscious; "The North. A law unto itself" repaid Black Larsen shortly thereafter when he fled - he perished in a crumbling crevasse avalanche beneath his feet
  • the Tramp - a Disappointed Prospector (with just one shoe, and his second foot wrapped up) arrived in a Far North gold-mining boomtown, where he sold his pick and shovel for some gold; two new characters were introduced in front of the Monte Carlo Dance Hall: tough and abusive Jack Cameron (Malcolm Waite), "the Ladies Man," and one of his pretty dancing hall girlfriends Georgia (Georgia Hale)

Abusive and Tough Jack Cameron (Malcolm Waite)

Dance-Hall Girl Georgia (Georgia Hale)
  • that night in the dance hall, Georgia spitefully refused to give Jack one of her recent photos, and threw it on the floor; the Tramp entered and regarded himself as an out-of-place "stranger" in the crowd; he overheard one of Georgia's girlfriends ask her: "What's wrong with you tonight, dear?", and was immediately smitted by Georgia when he heard her response: "I guess I'm bored...If I could only meet some one worth while - I'm so tired of this place"; he found the discarded and half-ripped picture of Georgia on the floor and hid it in his clothing
  • to further provoke Jack who called Georgia a "little spitfire" and "fresh" for not obeying his beck and call, she yelled out: "Hey you! Come here!" and danced with the first available man - the incredulous Tramp; during their dance, he lost his belt and his pants kept falling down; he improvised with a dog's leash rope to create a makeshift belt, until the dog bolted to chase a cat and dragged him across the dance floor; Georgia and others burst into laughter
  • the Tramp was no match against Jack's continued intimidations and insults; the Tramp tried to bravely defend her, but his derby hat was pulled down over his eyes, and he couldn't see who he was punching; the assailed Tramp was fortuitously saved when a heavy wall clock fell on Jack's head from the balcony and knocked him out
  • the following morning, the Tramp pretended he had fainted outside the nearby cabin of kindly prospector Hank Curtis (Henry Bergman); his stiffly-frozen body was brought inside to warm up and share a hot drink and meal of beans; meanwhile, Big Jim had lost his memory due to the blow to his head, and he "wandered aimlessly on"; during Hank's trip to his mining claim with a partner, the Tramp tended Hank's cabin and fed his mule
  • the Tramp witnessed Georgia and her three dance-hall girlfriends outside the cabin having a snowball fight; as he was hit in the face, she recognized the Tramp, and introduced him to her three girlfriends; when he went to gather firewood, she discovered her saved photo under the Tramp's pillow; she observed to him: "I guess you're lonesome here...why don't you invite us to dinner sometime?"; a discarded match by one of the girls caused the Tramp to have a "hot-foot" (he had earlier accidentally doused his wrapped foot with kerosene) and he jumped around to extinguish the flames that had set a chair on fire
  • he took Georgia's cue and invited her and her friends to the cabin for an 8 o'clock New Year's Eve dinner; after the quartet of dance-hall girls left, the Tramp was overjoyed and acrobatically jumped all around the cabin - and engaged in a pillow-fight with himself; Georgia briefly returned to retrieve his left-behind gloves - and saw that he was covered in feathers and resembled a giant chicken
  • to earn money for favors and presents for the party, he "begged, borrowed, and shovelled" - he took a snow-shoveling job in a classic sequence - he cleverly shoveled snow from one cabin's doorway to the next doorway, creating new customers as he progressed along; he quickly left when he noticed the next door was the JAIL entrance
The Tramp's Unattended New Year Eve's Party Dinner

Sitting at the Decorated Table
Dreaming of a Festive Party
"The Dance of the Rolls"
  • the Tramp made elaborate preparations for a charming, entertaining New Year's Eve dinner party with Georgia and her friends, although they never intended to attend and laughed at his foolish gullibility, but he fell more deeply in love with her nonetheless; as 8 pm approached, he had already set the room (with a Christmas tree) and table with streamers, lighted candles, table napkins, presents, party hats, and a newspaper for a tablecoth; he also placed and a heart-shaped place card at Georgia's seat, with "To My Love" written on it; he dozed off while pathetically waiting for them to appear; he dreamt of the party - becoming the perfect host/entertainer; instead of giving a speech, in a classic gag, "the Dance of the Rolls," he speared two crusty French bread rolls with forks and made them do a pantomime ballet-dance - the Oceana Roll; the two rolls were stand-ins for his big boots
  • at midnight, Georgia fired gun salutes with six-shooters in the raucous dance hall saloon, and the Tramp was awakened by the celebrants nearby; he realized the women had stood him up - they had forgotten all about his dinner invitation; the lonely Tramp (in profile) heard the distant sad singing of "Auld Lang Syne," followed by dancing to "Turkey in the Straw"
  • Georgia suddenly remembered her "little friend the Tramp", and proposed to her friends (including Jack) that they visit his cabin: "Let's go up and have some fun with him"; at the same moment, the Tramp left the cabin and shuffled up to the saloon window to watch the party through the window; by the time the group arrived, the Tramp had already left and his hut was empty; Georgia opened the door and entered the room, seeing the decorated dinner table; she was filled with remorse; just then, Jack followed and demanded a kiss from her, but she pushed him away ("Please don't"); she told her girlfriends: "The joke has gone too far, let's go!"; she angrily slapped Jack when he ordered another kiss
  • the next day, Big Jim returned to town and visited the Recorder's office to report his gold mine claim ("I have a mountain of gold"), but due to the blow to his head, he couldn't remember its whereabouts, but realized if he located the Tramp, he could find his way to the cabin
  • in the Dance Hall that night, Georgia (on the balcony level) had a change of heart about striking Jack; she wrote a note of apology to him ("Please forgive me"), signed: "I love you"; after disregarding the unaddressed note, Jack redirected it via the bartender toward the Tramp; at the same time, Big Jim entered the dance hall and renewed acquaintances with the Tramp by grabbing and hugging him - realizing that he could relocate his mine that was near the cabin: ("The Cabin! The Cabin! Take me to the cabin...Take me to the cabin and I'll make you a millionaire in less than a month!"); before being dragged away, the Tramp spotted Georgia in the saloon's balcony, ran to her and professed his love, promising: "And now I'm going to make good --"
  • the two prospectors tediously made their way back to the cabin so that Big Jim could locate his gold strike; during a nighttime storm, the cabin was swept away and ended up hanging halfway on the edge of an abyss; in the morning when the two woke up, they were blissfully ignorant that the cabin teetered on the edge of a crevasse; the cabin tipped backwards and forwards as their two different body weights moved about the interior of the cabin; the precariously-balanced cabin was held back from falling into the crevasse by a single rope
  • after hair-raising adventures inside the cabin, Big Jim realized that his claim was located where he had stuck his pick-axe into the ground outside; ignoring the Tramp's plight back in the slanted cabin, Big Jim cried out: "At last I've found my claim!"; suddenly, he realized he needed to rescue his partner - and threw him a lifeline rope just as the cabin toppled over the edge; the two embraced: "Look! We're rich! We're millionaires."
  • in the closing, the Tramp was now a newly-made millionaire (due to his gold-mine strike with Big Jim) - an elegant, well-dressed gentleman on board a ship in first-class returning home from Alaska; he was unaware that Georgia was on the same boat, one of the steerage passengers; for picture taking of the Tramp for a reporter's story on his incredible rags-to-riches career transformation, the Tramp was asked to dress in his mining clothes and shoes; he was saddened however since he had "everything but Georgia"; suddenly, as he posed and backed up, he fell off the top deck, and tumbled onto the steerage level where he encountered Georgia who had heard that the officials were looking for a stowaway on board
The Millionaire Tramp's Rendezvous with Georgia on Board Ship Leaving Alaska
  • the Tramp fell into a large rope coil, where Georgia noticed him and offered to protect him from ship officials and pay his passage's steerage fare, without knowing about his good fortune with Big Jim; the truth was revealed that the Tramp was a wealthy multi-millionaire; he alerted the ship's steward James to prepare his luxury suite, and began to lead Georgia up to his first class cabin after whispering to one of the officials that she was his fiancee; he invited the photographers to take an engagement picture of them on the first-class deck; the photographer was perturbed that they couldn't restrain themselves and hold still, and moved to kiss each other and spoiled his shot; the final image ended on their loving kiss

The Trek Through the Chilkoot Pass in Alaska in 1898

The Lone Prospector - "Three Days From Anywhere"

The Tramp in the Cabin - Hungrily Eating Chicken Bone

Black Larsen Shot Two Lawmen Dead

The Tramp Hallucinated to be a Giant Chicken

The Death of Black Larsen In a Crumbling Avalanche of Snow

The Solitary "Stranger" in the Dance Hall

Georgia's Discarded Photograph

The Tramp Dancing with Saloon Girl Georgia

Snowball Fight - The Tramp Hit in the Face

In the Cabin with Georgia (and Her Girlfriends)

Georgia Found Him Covered with Pillow Feathers

Shoveling Snow From One Doorway to the Next

12 Midnight Gun Salutes in the Dance Hall by Georgia

The Tramp Professing His Love For Georgia on the Dance Hall Balcony

Big Jim's Cabin at Edge of a Crevasse During Storm

Scrambling on the Floor of the Teetering Cabin

Big Jim: "Look! We're rich! We're millionaires"

On a Ship Departing Alaska During Picture Taking, the Tramp Backed Up and Fell Off Top Deck Into the Steerage Level


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