The Gold Rush (United Artists) (1925)

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J X Two Splendid Chaplin Magazine Features Chaplinas Genius Supreme On set in Fa mous Studio Neither Mobs Nor Megaphones and a Minimum of Noise During Scene in His New Super-Comedy, “The Gold Rush,” and the Inimitable Comedian Reigns Over All Chaplin The Laugh Maker Shows a Philo sophic Side English Writer Pictures Famous Comedian’s Efforts to Learn Life’s Secrets and Set World Aright for Benefit of Boys Who Face Hardships of Poverty (Special feature to be signed by Photo¬ play Editor or Staff Writer.) The Charlie Chaplin studio is differ¬ entiated from most other habitats of the photoplay by the use of the word itself. Essentially it is a studio—not an aggre¬ gation of buildings where scores of su- periority-complexed individuals turn out animated pictures simultaneously. One set at a time is used; the rest of the stages are dark. The handful of people clustered around the two inseparable cam¬ eras might appear to the average film magnate to be doing anything but making a screen epic. There are present neither mobs nor megaphones. There is a minimum of noise. The cameramen, property men, electricians, all talk among themselves in hushed whispers, when they speak at all. For the most part they look into the center of the set in much the same way as the Sunday flock looks at its pastor. For there gesticulates Charlie Chaplin. The set. A little cabin in Alaska. The bare wooden walls re-echo the emotions of two starving men—one almost insane from the want of food—the other passive in submission. “Great! Now just once more—for luck.” The speaker is the little man in very baggy trousers and a funny bob-tailed coat. He is wearing one huge, turned-up, long worn-out shoe; his other foot is un¬ tidily wrapped in sacking. His collar and shirt are affinities in dirt, and his face is the composite mirror of souls which have gone before him. Strange how that queer get-up is unable to wipe the pathos from his eyes—how utterly those ragged trousers and the trick mustache fail to rob his brow of the Beethoven sweep. One looks at the patched coat-tails and thinks of Hamlet; hears the voice of the Jester and thinks of a cardinal. He acts and directs the scpie, conceives and considers—Chariot might equally have become a poet or a prime minister, an actor or an arch¬ bishop. Opposite him on the set is Mack Swain, a man almost counterbalanced in avoir¬ dupois and art. A long time ago he used to wear a silk high hat and answer to the name of “Ambrose.” It was in those leaner days that Charlie met him; cus¬ tard pies then were theirs, both to give and receive. Now they have gone back further than the era of custard pies, for the present scene brings memories of the gold rush— to those, that is, who suffer memories. Charlie and Mack are miners starving in the cabin. Mack in particular, because he’s making an awful lot of noise about it. Also, it appears, he is temporarily insane with the hallucination that Charlie is a chicken, and that such a chicken would still the void in his aching stomach. Wherefore he stalks Charlie with intent to kill, only to be outwitted by the nimble Charlie and the advent of a huge black bear. Only three scenes were taken in one entire afternoon, but the proof that Chap¬ lin is without doubt the hardest working individual in Hollywood is that each scene is shot at least twenty times. Any one of the twenty would transport almost any director other than Charlie; he does ’em over and over again, seeking just the shade to blend with the mood. And his moods are even more numerous than his scenes. “Just once more—we’ll get it this time!” It is his continual cry, ceaseless as the waves of the sea. And each ad¬ ditional take means just three times as much work for him as for anyone else. Perhaps in the middle of a scene when everything seems to be superlative, he will stop the action with a gesture, “Cut” —he walks over to a little stool beside one of the cameras and leans his head upon the tripod. The cameramen stand silently beside their cranks; everyone vir¬ tually holds his breath until Charlie jumps up with an enthusiastic cry. “I’ve got it Mack, you should cry: Food! Food!—I must have food! You’re starving and you are going to pieces. See—like this !” Mack Swain, a veteran trooper, watches intently as Charlie goes through every detail of the action. “Let’s take it!” Charlie suddenly ex¬ claims—“What do you say. Mack?” “Sure” answers Mack. And again the scene is re-enacted and recorded in celluloid by the tireless cam¬ eras. Charlie Chaplin calls his newest pic¬ ture, “The Gold Rush,” a comedy. This because he has on his comedy make¬ up, and because his principal purpose for the time being is to make people laugh. But Charlie is drama personified; he couldn’t possibly create a chuckle with¬ out shading it with the accompanying tear, for so utterly is he the artist that the precisely modulated contrast is in¬ stinctive. Clowns buffooning around the throne, have ruled empires. But a clown upon the throne would be incongruous were he other than the one and only Charles. “A Night in a London Music Hall”— “A Woman of Paris.” Between them a meteoric career comparable with nothing in the cinema sphere, even as Chaplin is himself comparable with no one else in it. To the man on the street Charlie is a darling of the gods; as a matter of fact, one surmises that the gods, far from fondling him, have dealt him many a smack. An hour or two on his set shows that only his infinite energy and his mental agility have enabled him to laugh at them. “The Gold Rush,” a United Artists Corporation release is announced as the feature attraction for next . at the . theatre. To Exhibitors—The following special feature story can be handed as an ex¬ clusive to the dramatic or Sunday edi¬ tor of your best newspaper for use prior to or during the run of "The Gold Rush.” By Hannen Swaffer I often wondered what Charlie Chaplin thought of it all, this life of ours, I mean with its mistakes and its blunders —its sorrows and its joys—its virtues and its crimes. He hadn’t summed it up when I saw him last, although ponder¬ ing over it for hours had made his soul a gloomy one for years. For, a poor boy once, he had risen to great wealth and world-wide fame. And he wanted to put the world right in his wondering way, so that other boys should not suffer as he had done, so that people might understand each other more. In London, where I spent many hours in his company when he came back a national hero, Charlie Chaplin would walk around the streets in the places where he was young, discovering his boyhood again. He spent nearly every night in London trying to be a Peter Pan, a boy who grew up because he couldn’t fcrget. And he liked being with H. G. Wells, and Tom Burke, the author, and me. For we saw into tbe soul of a man' whom the world thinks merely a comedian. Charlie has spoken to me and his friends, through half the night, often of his doubts and fears. He has read Wells and Turgeneff and- Dostoievsky; but everywhere he has failed to find the secret that would put this sorry world aright. For they talk without hope, most of these people. It is only gloom they see. Chaplin walked down to the Thames embankment, late one night, when he was in London last, and sto®ping suddenly, darted his fingers along a groove about four feet from the ground, a groove upon the wall that safeguards the Thames. “What are you doing?” I said. “I am being a little boy again,” replied the great comedian. “When I was six, I used to walk along beside this wall and I couldn’t see over the top. My fingers reached as high as that, and I always wondered what was on the other side. Now that I know, I don’t want to know, because water doesn’t seem new, does it?” Then, across Westminster Bridge he walked, and pointed to a palace of pain facing the House of Commons—St. Thomas’s Hospital, with its hundreds of beds. “Do you see that third light in that block of buildings?” he asked, “There is the bed where my father died. When I was a boy I stood here all night, just where we are standing now, crying and wondering when the end would be. Do you know why that light is burning there still? Somebody else is dying, and it goes on and no one can stop it—not all the money I have, nor all the popularity I have, nor anything.” And by Westminster Bridge, too, there are some steps. “I walked down these steps one day to look at the river,” he said, “and I fell in, and a dog swam in and saved me. Everybody else has forgotten that. It -was just one of the little incidents of a poor boy’s boyhood; but I shall never forget.” Just around the corner, at the end of Westminster Bridge, he stopped again. “When I was a boy,” he explained, “nearly thirty years ago, a man stood there selling tomatoes and dying of con¬ sumption^ ‘Who’ll have a ripe tomato?’ I used to watch him for hours. I walked across the bridge last week and he was still there—still dying of consumption and still selling ripe tomatoes. Only, now he sits down. There is just that difference.” “When I was a boy, people slept in the arches all night, and though I have grown up, I see them still sleeping under the arches. I am living at the Ritz Hotel ; but they still live in the open air. I have been trying to be a boy again, all the weeks I have been in London. “Now I will try to be a fairy; fairies are little boys. “How much money have you? Give me all the money that you have and I will give you all the money that I have. We will empty our pockets and creep along a row of sleeping people and drop money in their pockets without waking them, and, when they wake up, they will be rich; or think they are rich.” And so saying, he crept along and put all sorts of money into the clothes of the sleeping outcasts. I tried to get him to tell me what was the most beautiful thing he had seen in London, and the most tragic thing, and the most extensive thing, and the most wonderful thing. “You cannot answer questions like that.” he said. “Life doesn’t answer questions. But, wait! The most wonder¬ ful thing I have ever seen in London is what we have just seen outside—the spectacle of people sleeping out of doors, while we enjoy luxury. They do it, too, apparently without complaint—just en¬ during it. “I have been spending a month trying to get back into my boyhood, and I see just the same things that I saw thirty years ago. Some of the same people are still enduring them, and some new people are enduring them; and it goes on and on, and, if I gave away all my money it wouldn’t do any good, and, if I keep it all, it won’t do any good. We cannot look over the Wall of Life even when we grow up, and, if we do, we don’t see anything.” “All of us are seeking good,” he says. “We sin only in blindness. The ignor¬ ant condemn our mistakes, but the wise pity them.” It is only a film comedian who has said it—but, oh, how wisely! I wonder if any great writer living now, or any great philosopher now resting in the shades, could have put it more beautifully or with more simpleness.