Wes Serafine

Equinox Staff


This past week, Keene State College’s own Putnam Theatre hosted  a restored edition of comedy legend Charlie Chaplin’s classic film, “The Gold Rush.” The Criterion Collection recently restored the film, originally made in 1925, for Blu-ray release.

The film takes place in the treacherous snowy mountains of Alaska and focuses on a character identified only as the lone prospector, played by Chaplin himself.

Throughout the film, we see the lone prospector’s antics and their affects on the various colorful characters (despite the film being in black and white) around him.  The film begins with the prospector trying to escape a violent storm in the cabin of a wanted violent criminal named Black Larson.

Meanwhile, another prospector named Big Jim has just discovered a great deal of gold and wanders into the cabin as well and the three are stuck together with nothing to eat.

Their starvation is so severe that they are forced to eat Chaplin’s shoe, which Chaplin humorously finds delicious.

These present moments in Charlie Chaplin’s films have inspired the likes of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery.

Everything from the scene where the wind is so strong that Chaplin finds himself unable to exit the cabin, to when Big Jim, crazed from hunger, begins to hallucinate his cabin mate as a giant chicken have become classic tropes of animation and by extension, comedy in general, even to this day.

Watching this, it is not hard to see why Charlie Chaplin is regarded as one of the originators of modern comedy. As the film continues, the prospector and Big Jim leave the cabin and Black Larson meets his fate when he falls off a cliff.

After the two part ways, Chaplin finds himself in a small town in the north. In this town the audience is introduced to Georgia, the love interest for the film.

Georgia is considered the most beautiful girl in town and she instantly catches the eye of Chaplin. Unfortunately, he has to contend with Jack, who also has his sights on Georgia, and happens to be twice Charlie’s size and quite ill tempered. To make Jack jealous, Georgia asks Charlie for a dance.

Jack confronts Charlie, but thanks to some incredible luck and the power of slapstick, Chaplin manages to best his rival, or rather, his rival gets knocked out by a falling clock that Chaplin doesn’t see and just takes the credit for.

Even though at first Georgia has no interest, she eventually sees that the prospector has a good heart and can’t help but find him charming. Later, Big Jim comes to town and reunites with the prospector. The two return to the cabin to find Jim’s secret mine.

When they get back to the cabin, an even bigger storm than the last one blows the cabin away until it’s left teetering on the side of a cliff. Once again Chaplin demonstrates the kind of classic humor that is loved by many and would one day be mimicked by the characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

The film ends with the pair overcoming their hardship and becoming millionaires after finding Jim’s gold, Charlie reuniting with Georgia and ending the film with a kiss.

Nowadays, comedy films rely on dialogue in order to be funny.

This film was not afforded that luxury and so the humor is all derived from the character’s facial expressions and body language as well as what is going on in the background.

The whole audience was laughing throughout almost the entire screening.

KSC student, Joanna Oko called the film “An enjoyable way to experience a blast from the past.”

The acting was superb, the music was perfect and Charlie Chaplin’s skills as the legendary comedian and filmmaker that he is truly shone.


Wes Serafine can be contacted at



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