What’s black and white and waddles on the snow? Why, it’s Charlie Chaplin in “The Gold Rush.” He’s first seen ambling on a snowy mountain, barely aware of a bear behind him. Hehe. But can you really blame the bear? That Chaplin chap’s a treat.

In “The Gold Rush,” Chaplin brings his funny character to Alaska as a lone prospector in pursuit of gold. The place is cold, windy, and harsh, but it all melts away due to the warmhearted humor. Chaplin’s rich asset is his proletarian appeal and unlike his modern peers, he displays it not by dumbing down the material. Shocking.

Chaplin connects at a more human level. He understands the trials of the poor and it is them that he tries to cheer up the most. Whether it be starvation, working hard, or wooing a girl, Chaplin elevates life’s commonality into a fun art form. His scenes are crisply directed, relying on timing and situational complexity. And the guy is such a nimble performer with a legible face that says more than what a dialogue can deliver.

There are a lot of people, even some self-proclaimed film buffs, who would never watch a silent film. It’s a pity, really. When I first saw Chaplin’s “Modern Times,” I was such in awe – more awe when I saw “Avatar” in 3-D. His movies aren’t really literally silent to me anyway. I hear the sound of laughter every time.

Grade: A

Charlie Chaplin, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman, and Malcolm Waite
Written by
Charlie Chaplin
Directed by
Charlie Chaplin
Rated G