Second Screening: The Gold Rush (The 1942 Re-Release)

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“Second Screening” is devoted to watching alternate versions of NFR entries and determining which version is most worthy of preservation. Our first film is the 1942 re-release of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush”. You can read my thoughts on the original 1925 version here.

What’s Different?: The 1942 version of “The Gold Rush” is notable for the inclusion of an original score and narration by Chaplin himself. In addition, Chaplin speeds up the frame-rate (from 16 fps to 24 fps) and slightly re-edits the film, eliminating most of the footage that doesn’t pertain to the Tramp. This deemphasizes a lot of the additional characters, particularly Georgia, and the film is no longer the “dramatic comedy” it was originally subtitled as.

Does It Help?: All of that said, the aforementioned cuts do not hurt the film. The faster pacing makes the comedy much funnier, and it now makes sense to me why most film buffs consider this one of the funniest films ever made. At no point did I notice any particular scene that got cut. It was only after reading about the changes that I remembered those scenes were ever there. The narration gets in and out without ever feeling in the way, and the soundtrack and effects help accentuate the story.

The Verdict: The 1942 re-release wins by a landslide. I still don’t think “The Gold Rush” is Chaplin’s finest work, but this version makes the case for it much stronger. If you’ve never seen the film before, start with the 1942 version. If you really like it and want to see more, move on to the original 1925 version.

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