The Gold Rush

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Events in a man's life often culminate queerly, as if manipulated for dramatic effect by an unseen director who, with megaphone to lips, soundlessly thunders : "Register! This is the headline scene. Strut! This is the big-act." Such a climax occurred one day last week in the career of an undersized gentleman who was perceived, at dawn, walking up and down the terrace of his villa at Beverly Hills, Calif. A medical man in his employ issued from the house and crossed the grass to the little fellow, making, as he came, expressive gestures. The other's face relaxed. He beamed, took the doctor's arm, crossed to the house with him at a skipping run. In an hour the world knew that a 6¾-pound boy had been born to Mrs. Lita G. Chaplain, wife of Charles S. Chaplin, famed cinema clown. The world already knew that, a few hours before, his latest picture, The Gold Rush, had been shown in a Hollywood cinema house.

All the notables for miles around had gathered in the Egyptian Theatre to see Charles S. Chaplin in The Gold Rush— the picture 9,000 feet long which has taken him two years to make and of which he had remarked: "This is the picture I want to be remembered by, heedless of the fact that his press agent was listening.

On the screen, a shadow flickered—a shadow with feet like boxcars and a smile like the last soliloquy of Hamlet. He was a tenderfoot. The date was the year of Our Lord 1896—a period in which gentlemen were proud to spend several thousand dollars of lousy paper money to dig up a couple of ounces of mica "in the Klondike. ... A blizzard. A straggling company of ragged monte-banks passing through a wintry defile; Chilkoot Pass. Chaplin left behind in the dash for gold, blown to the door of a lonely cabin. Does the hearty Westerner within open his door, warm the tattered stranger with a glass of whiskey? No; he snarls through a crack in the window; Chilly Chaplin reels off in the storm. . . .

The violinists in the Egyptian Theatre played another tune. . . . This is a dance hall. A piano with sinus trouble clangs for the twiddling feet of Big Jim McKay, swashbuckling prospector who picks his teeth and his sweethearts with a Colt 44. The tiny mustachioed orphan of the storm beams innocently over the shoulder of McKay's own dearest. . . . Old stuff about an endearing note which Chaplin receives by mistake. . . . Out to make his pile so that he can wed the Klondike Kitty Kelly . . . . More prospectors*. . . . The big strike; the search for the girl; the scene on board the ocean liner in which the stunted erstwhile prospector, now in purple and fine sable, lounges on the first cabin, his heart aswoon for a vanished barmaid . . . while down in the steerage the girl tosses on her midnight pallet, wishing for her hobo-brummel. . . .The audience in the Egyptian Theatre made comments on the picture. . . .An epic in comedy . . . Gloria Hale, his new leading lady, a most adept young actress . . . Good support by a comedian named Mack Swain . . . . An epic in comedy, written, directed, acted by a man who understands that the cinema is a medium of high art only because it can be used, as can no other medium, to express the illimitable diversity of life.

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