Charlie Chaplin (1951)

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cc 188 For dramatic pathos the New Year's Eve dinner se- quence has seldom been surpassed in any medium. It is here that Chaplin performs the famous dance of the rolls with incomparable grace and dexterity. The clever bit is made poignant by the knowledge that he is only imagin- ing it—it is for guests who never come. This dinner scene is one of the memorable peak moments in screen creative- ness, ranking with such different but vividly remembered highlights as the Homecoming and the Ride of the Clan in "The Birth of a Nation," the closet scene in "Broken Blossoms," Douglas Fairbanks' gymnastic flight in "The Mark of Zorro," the dream of the porter in "The Last Laugh," the moving up to the front in "The Big Parade," the cream-separator sequence in "Old and New," the money ballet in "A Nous la Liberte," the shell-hole scene in "All Quiet on the Western Front," the Titanic se- quence in "Cavalcade," the shooting of Frankie in "The Informer," the Indian attack in "Stagecoach," etc. The close to hysterical suspense of the scene of the cabin half over the cliff may show the influence of Harold Lloyd who had started a vogue for comedy-thrill se- quences in his "Safety Last" and other skyscraper pic- tures. It is Chaplin's first use of such effects but, imitated or not, his inimitable touches make it his own. The happy ending of the film, which in some ways breaks the mood, may have been inspired by the epilogue of Murnau's "The Last Laugh," which was then influencing picture- making all over the world. Such criticism as was leveled against "The Gold Rush" at the time held it to be sometimes slow and overserious as compared with the briskly humorous "earlier" come- dies. It is an odd fact, however, that through the years, each new Chaplin film has seemed more serious and less funny than the preceding one—until seen in retrospect. When revived in 1942, with music by Chaplin and a commentary spoken by him, "The Gold Rush" scored