Showing posts with label Gold Rush. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gold Rush. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lita Grey, along with Chaplin & his enterouge, at her contract signing to be leading lady in The Gold Rush, March 1924

From left: Chaplin’s publicist Eddie Manson, Lillian Spicer (Lita’s mother), Asst Dir. Chuck Reisner, CC, publicist Jim Tully, Lita, Henry Bergman, Asst. Dir. Eddie Sutherland, and studio manager Alf Reeves.

In his 1927 biography of Chaplin, Jim Tully recalled how Lita got the part:
Chaplin's selection of Lita Grey to play the role of the leading lady in "The Gold Rush" was quite romantic. Many young women of great beauty had applied for the position. Charlie, never quite certain as to which type he wanted, found his selection almost hopeless until the young schoolgirl appeared at the studio. She had played with Charlie in "The Kid," and hence was given a "screen-test" to see whether she photographed well or otherwise. 
A day after Miss Grey appeared at the studio her picture was flashed in the projection room. Chaplin was in a particularly happy mood that morning. 
After the rushes and screen-tests had been viewed Charlie walked with me to my office. Lita Grey followed us. She stood in the middle of the room saying, "What's it to be, Charlie--Mister Man?"
Charlie looked at her for a moment and said boyishly, "You're engaged."
The young girl, not yet sixteen, jumped up and down with joy. Had she been able to read the future she might have jumped over the moon, for within a short time Lita became not only leading woman for the most famous man in the world but also his wife. (Jim Tully, "Charlie Chaplin: His Real Life Story" Pictorial Review, February 1927)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chaplin and others at the premiere of THE GOLD RUSH, June 1925

This photo is currently up for sale on eBay.* It appears to be from the Hollywood premiere of The Gold Rush.

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford are at far left with Gloria Swanson. I'm not sure who the women are on either side of Charlie. That might be Norma Talmadge at far right. Someone more knowledgable may be able to identify them. I think there is something a little fake-looking about this photo. The background looks airbrushed out. Or it could be a composite of individual photos from the premiere.


*The eBay seller lists Paulette Goddard as being in the photo. Of course, she is not. And the photo they include of the back is for a different picture.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hollywood premiere of THE GOLD RUSH at Grauman's Egyptian Theater


More than 15,000 fans, held in check by ropes and police, gathered outside the theater on the evening of June 26th, 1925 to watch the celebrities descend from their cars. Among those in attendance were: Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Mabel Normand, Rudolph Valentino, John Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer, who were on their first date. Chaplin's then wife, Lita Grey, did not attend.*

Cover of premiere program. See the inside here.
Inside the theater the stars were announced to the audience via an elaborate stage prologue called "Charlie Chaplin's Dream" described as a "thing of matchless beauty":
A novel presentation of the celebrities present was accomplished by unreeling a special movie showing a procession of stars in specially acted incidents with Fred Niblo as master of ceremonies, both in film and on the stage.
Rudolph Valentino in the screen introduction was presented in a bathing suit and bathrobe as an oceanside victim of auto thieves. At this point a noise of running feet in the aisles attracted attention to a racing figure which was Rudy, sure enough, in a bathrobe.  Niblo reproached the sheik for appearing in such a costume, whereupon Rudy nonchalantly unpeeled the checkered robe and revealed the proprieties of a tuxedo.1
The applause for Mabel Normand's entry was second only to that of Charlie himself.

Chaplin at the premiere.

When the film was over Chaplin received an ovation and made his way to the stage but was "too emotional, he explained, to make much of a speech and then, characteristically, he proceeded to deliver a fairly good one."2

John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlotte Pickford, and Mary Pickford
at the opening.
Another person in the audience that evening was William E. Curry, grandfather of Lita Grey, who was Chaplin's original leading lady in the film until she became pregnant. "At the intermission, old Mr. Curry confided to a friend the depth of his disappointment at seeing Georgia Hale instead of Lita in the screen triumph he had anticipated for his 17-year-old granddaughter."3


Chaplin with Sid Grauman

Afterward a party was held for Charlie at the home of Sam Goldwyn. The celebrations continued the next afternoon with a "bachelor lunch party" at the Montmartre attended by the "back wash of the Chaplin premiere of the night before. Charlie himself with Douglas Fairbanks, Harry d'Arrast, and Robert Fraser." Charlie was clad in a "snappy sports outfit, white buckskin shoes, white serge trousers with a black hair line, and a form-fitting khaki coat. He received visits from many admirers at his table." Interestingly, a "nattily turned out" Syd Chaplin was also there, but "lunched with Hawaiian friends."4
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*Lita had been in practical seclusion during this time. Three days after the premiere, the birth of Charlie Chaplin, Jr. was announced. His date of birth was given as June 28th, although he had actually been born on May 5th. Since Charlie and Lita had only been married 6 months, he paid the doctor $25,000 to falsify the birth certificate with a later date. In order to keep the birth a secret for another 7 weeks, Lita and the baby were hidden away--first in a cabin in the San Bernadino mountains and then in a house in Redondo Beach. 

1Rosalind Shaffer, "All The Old Guard of Movieland Sees Chaplin Premiere," Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1925
2David Robinson, Charlie Chaplin: His Life and Art, 1985
3Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1925
4Rosalind Shaffer, Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1925

Monday, August 31, 2015

In shades in the Sierra Nevada mountains during location filming of THE GOLD RUSH

Chaplin's publicist Jim Tully recalled that "the terrible glare of the sun on snow nearly blinded us at times. It made our skin turn red and blister and caused our eyes to burn through the night." (Pictorial Review, March 1927)


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Auld Lang Syne"



In his autobiography, Chaplin wrote that certain songs created the mood for his films. For The Immigrant it was an old song called “Mrs. Grundy," for Twenty Minutes Of Love, a popular two-step called "Two Much Mustard," Jose Padilla's "La Violatera" set the mood for City Lights, and lastly, for The Gold Rush, the mood was created with "Auld Lang Syne," which Charlie hears the revelers singing during this poignant scene in the film.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Random Excerpt


The following is Jim Tully's first-hand account of the filming of the opening scenes of The Gold Rush on Donner Summit near Truckee, CA, early 1924:
As we left the train a great shout of "He's here--he's here!" echoed over the snow-white country. It was from Chaplin's lieutenant, Edward Sutherland, and members of the company who had blazed the trail for the general. The same shout was always given when Chaplin arrived at the studio.
Summit consisted of a general store and a pine hotel perched on a mountainside. Weary of the day, we walked toward the hotel. 
Boxes filled with sawdust served as spittoons in the roughly furnished lobby. A battered registry book was open on a garishly painted red desk. 
We waited about it until Chaplin had written his heavy signature. We then wrote our names. Teamsters, carpenters, and other men loitered in the lobby. They gazed in awe at Chaplin. As he walked past them in a narrow hallway several men said, "Hello, Charlie!"
He answered "Hello!" cheerily. 
The preparation for the trek over Chilkoot Pass had been a long and arduous task. So loyal and efficient were Chaplin's assistants that upon his arrival every detail had been carried out. He was up at five the next morning, going over plans with Eddie Sutherland, his assistant, and [Chuck] Reisner, his chief gag-man. 
At seven that morning the army of hoboes arrived. 
As the disheveled 500 vagabonds left the train they marched in a body to the front of the hotel and shouted, "Hurrah for Charlie!" The world's greatest screen artist listened with a wry smile. 
Chaplin (in middle with back to the camera) with the hobo extras. Lita Grey is at left.
Sutherland and Reisner were outdoors marshaling the army of nondescripts. The pass headquarters was three miles away, in a white basin of land surrounded by pine-covered mountains. The road was full of drifted snow. 
As we emerged from the hotel with Chaplin, dressed in baggy trousers, wearing the derby and holding his cane, another mighty shout went up from the assembled vagabonds, who stood as if at attention. I hurried with Chaplin into a waiting sleigh. The horses dashed through the cold air. Chaplin held his hand to his derby, the men shouting the while, "Hey, Charlie boy!" Hurrah for Charlie--he's our kind--hurrah--hooray!" Cold, benumbed fingers lifted greasy caps and hats as the horses dashed onward by them. 
"Isn't it great, Charlie--those men love and understand you--hear them cheer!" I said. 
As the men marched single file after the sleigh, they resembled a long black string across a white earth. We soon lost sight of them. 
Chaplin is in the middle between Lita Grey and Eddie Sutherland (in black hat).
Jim Tully is on right (in white shirt).
Cameras turned upon the marching men as they drew near the pass headquarters. Feeling a communion with Chaplin, like boys at a picnic, the weary trudgers enjoyed it all. Their gay and life-streaked faces showed it. 
The comedian's energy was indefatigable. He hurried about giving orders through a large megaphone. Chaplin wanted to make his opening shots of this picture "the greatest ever made." Teams, wagons, sleighs, hauling supplies, came endlessly from Summit. 
Within two hours the first march over Chilkoot Pass was started. One by one the men trudged through a narrow pass between two mountains, nearly two miles long. Far up, men scaled the pass. Down below, men clambered upward with lust for the gold which lay beyond. 
Chaplin's original idea for "The Gold Rush" was ironical. The end finally chosen came only after many, many changes, until Charlie had what he felt he had been seeking. 
The working hours passed swiftly and were generally pleasant. Chaplin's energy seemed inexhaustible. 
The terrible glare of the sun on snow nearly blinded us at times. It made our skin turn red and blister and caused our eyes to burn through the night. 
Chaplin wears sunglasses to shield his eyes from the blinding snow.
Time after time hundreds of men walked by the camera uncomplainingly as ghosts and as heavily laden as army mules. Blankets and other paraphernalia of miners were strung across their backs. Chaplin, during this sequence, was one of the men. He would direct it until it came time for him to join the march. He would then hand his megaphone to his assistant director, Edward Sutherland, adjust his battered derby, and fall in line. 
As he stepped along with the army of vagabonds, his face slowly and miraculously took on a sad and sadder expression, until, as he neared the cameras, you saw a broken explorer in a lonely moment, worn and heartsick, and trudging onward to a very uncertain destiny. He was able to interpret perfectly his companions' sufferings on his mobile face. I stood near a cameraman who had photographed the comedian for seven years [Rollie Totheroh]. He sighed as he looked at Chaplin's face and turned the camera. 
Here, indeed, was the man Chaplin great. Here he made you forget all his superficialities and all his sad futilities. He was now a troubadour, two skillets rattling on his back, his derby hat near to falling off, his mouth in little puckers of agony, and his eyes too brave to cry. 
You wanted to laugh at his grotesque make-up. But his face kept you from it. He looked about dismally at his companions, who staggered onwards heads down, backs hunched, as if to better bear their loads. On and on they walked, leaning forward like men going up a steep hill. These 500 hoboes--social rebels hating all established order--were now as docile as lambs. 
The cameras turned in a steady, monotonous rhythm. Voices yelled to the men "Don't look at the cameras--keep goin' on--if you look up at all--look at the narrow pass--pay no attention to Charlie at all--he's just one of you--don't even look at him--it'll spoil the continuity of the action." Sutherland, the assistant, could be heard now above everything else. 
"Come on, men--a little slower--you're a little more tired--it's been a long walk, you know--but you've got to go on--you've got to make the pass before night--your feet are heavy--but you're game--slow up slowly--so it isn't too perceptible on the screen."
As Chaplin reached the headquarters he looked up and beheld his leading lady [then Lita Grey]. Clad in a fur coat, beautiful in contrast to her rough surroundings, she walked straight into the derbied vagabond's heart. Words were not needed--here was a life-and beauty-starved man. It was all written on his face as he looked at the girl. But as a sore-footed soldier might look at a rose while marching to battle, he dare not stop. 
Then came the villain and the mechanics of the screen. Chaplin became the tawdry hero and lost the poignancy of the situation. 
At least twenty times the men marched past the cameras. Chaplin alternately watching and walking with them. At last the effect was what he thought he desired. The men rested. In an hour they did it all over again. (Tully, "The Real Life-Story of Charlie Chaplin," Pictorial Review, March 1927)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Comedian In New York (1925), Part IV: Midnight premiere of The Gold Rush

Moe Mark, president of the Mark Strand Theater,
 greets Chaplin. At left is Joseph Plunkett,
Managing Director. 8/16/25

Chaplin arrived back in the city on the 15th after spending a day in Brighton Beach as per his doctor's orders to get some rest away from the big city hustle and bustle and to breath in the fresh sea air. He had been suffering from (take your pick): a cold, exhaustion, low blood pressure, a nervous breakdown, etc. Not to mention the hubbub caused by a supposed bitten lip. The gossips were quick to point out that his lips on the night of the premiere showed no sign of a scab or any other mark.

The premiere was held at midnight on August 16th at the Mark Strand Theater on Broadway. Several thousand people gathered at the back door of the theater to await his arrival but Chaplin tricked them by driving right up to the front door in a conventional black-and-white taxicab. His friend, Harry d'Arrast, paid the fare while Charlie sauntered in practically unnoticed until an onlooker spotted him and began shouting. A crowd quickly gathered and twenty policeman came to Charlie's rescue.

Before the curtain went up,  a wave of applause went over the theater and people stood up in their seats to catch a glimpse of Chaplin who quietly greeted old friends* as he made his way down the aisle. He was a little nervous and appeared much relieved when he finally reached his seat, which was in the center of the theater on the aisle.
It was a proud night for Chaplin as while he sat looking at the picture and listening to Carl Edourard's orchestra he was not insensible to the chuckles and shrieks of laughter provoked by his own antics on the screen. The joy of the spectators testified to the worth of the picture on which he had worked for more than eighteen months. (Mordaunt Hall, New York Times, August 17, 1925) 

When the film was over at 2:20a.m., Chaplin went to the stage and thanked the audience. He ended his "very brief" talk by saying that he was very emotional.

At some point during the festivities, Brunswick officials presented Chaplin with a gold-plated phonograph record of his two compositions "Sing A Song" and "With You Dear, In Bombay" which Chaplin recorded with the Abe Lyman Orchestra in early 1925. The songs were supposedly part of the sheet music that accompanied the film, all of which Chaplin supervised.

A small premier party was held in the ballet rehearsal room of the theater. A select few friends had invitations pressed into their hand by Chaplin's associates as they entered the theater. Chaplin appeared at the party "weary but relieved" that the picture was at last launched.

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*Edna Purviance was in New York City at the time of the premiere but I could find no evidence that she attended the opening. Edna was en route to France to make her final film Éducation de Prince. However Chaplin's original leading lady, Mabel Normand, did attend. She was also present at the Los Angeles premiere in June.

Sources: 
Variety, August 19, 1925
"The Screen by Mordaunt Hall," New York Times, Aug. 17, 1925
Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1925
Picture-Play Magazine, November 1925

Thursday, March 20, 2014

THE GOLD RUSH on TCM tomorrow night (3/21) @ 10:45 PM (EST)

The film is part of Anthony Bourdain's "Food in the Movies" series on Friday nights this month.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Charlie & Georgia Hale on the set of THE GOLD RUSH


Also shown are "Georgia's friends" played by: Betty Morrissey (far left), Joan Lowell (second from left), and Kay Deslys (far right).

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Gold Rush (1925): Original Ending

Here is the original ending to Chaplin's 1925 silent film The Gold Rush. In 1942, Chaplin reissued the film with his own orchestral score and narration. He also made cuts to the original in an effort to shorten the film so it would be booked on double bills, which were popular at the time. These alterations were an attempt to "modernize" The Gold Rush for current 1940s tastes. Among the scenes that were trimmed from the film was the kiss with Georgia Hale. It's anyone's guess why Chaplin did this, perhaps he thought it was inessential or too formulaic. Having Charlie and Georgia walk up the steps and away from the camera gave the film a more ambiguous ending, which was something Chaplin seemed to prefer in his films.

Anyway, here is the ending to the original silent version from 1925, complete with intertitles--and the kiss.




Saturday, December 21, 2013

Signed photo with sketch


Chaplin inscribed the photo in French:

"A Monsieur Pierre, avec Plaisir et, Merci, Charlie Chaplin"

 which roughly translates to:

 "To Pierre, with pleasure and, thank you"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Performing the roll dance from The Gold Rush, c. 1929

With and without a tablecloth...



The actual date of these photos is up in the air. According to someone who has seen the original negatives, they are consistent with the negatives from The Gold Rush. However, Screenland magazine claims these photos were taken specifically for a December 1929 article by Rob Wagner. This may not be true, but my personal opinion is that the Charlie in the above photos looks more like a c. 1929 Charlie than a c. 1924/25 Charlie.