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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Gold Rush is a classic silent comedy that includes men shot down with guns, some hand-to-hand roughhousing, and a villain falling off a cliff. There is some drinking and smoking among the characters.
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What's the story?
During THE GOLD RUSH, a nameless "Lone Prospector" (Charlie Chaplin), small, accident-prone and underprovisioned, is a long-shot among the roughneck maverick miners to strike it rich. In a remote, snowbound cabin he stays with Big Jim (Mack Swain), a prospector who has, in fact, discovered a mountain of gold ore. After the pair survive through a winter with little food, they part as friends, Jim promising to share his fortune. But Jim, beaten by a rival prospector-outlaw, loses his memory. The Lone Prospector spends a lonely New Years in a frontier boomtown, mostly ignored by the populace, including a saloon-girl (Georgia Hale) who has captured his heart. When Jim wanders into town and recognizes the Lone Prospector as his old friend, they embark together to return to the ramshackle cabin and stake their claim on the gold.
Is it any good?
What sets this film apart from other slapstick silent masterpieces is emotion and pathos. The Lone Prospector -- pretty identical to Chaplin's emblematic Little Tramp character -- has a wistful, sentimental quality that makes his pratfalls, disappointments, and victories as much human as humor.
Most best-of-all-time lists include The Gold Rush. It enriched young cinema with immortal imagery: The Lone Prospector not noticing he's being followed by a bear; the "little fellow" appearing to the hallucinating, starving Big Jim as a giant chicken; and the New Year's Eve dream where the hero entertains a group of beauties by making a pair of dinner rolls with forks stuck in them into adept dancing feet.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how well the comedy has endured. Some consider The Gold Rush not just the best comedy ever but one of top movies of all time. Do kids agree?
Talk about how movies have changed over time. What are some of the latest innovations in the film industry? Can modern kids still appreciate the classics?
Use The Gold Rush as a gateway to get young viewers to watch and enjoy other silent classics, including the comedies of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Harry Langdon.
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