As inspiration for his 1925 The Gold Rush, Chaplin took the Donner party tragedy and transformed it into a story of the Little Tramp's longing and ambition. With his characteristic pathos, Chaplin plays a prospector in Alaska at the turn of the last century searching for gold. The film contains several iconic food scenes. Trapped in a cabin with Big Jim McKay, the Tramp hallucinates McKay as a chicken and prepares his own shoe complete with shoelaces for them to eat. The Gold Rush also includes the famous Oceana Roll scene in which Chaplin puts two dinner rolls on forks and performs a dance with them. In this masterpiece, he also falls in love with dance hall girl Georgia, flees from a bear, and hangs on for dear life as the cabin he's in perches precariously on the edge of a cliff.
Saturday in The Kid Chaplin pairs up with Jackie Coogan, the kid of the title, in a brilliant balancing act of humor and sentiment. As Coogan's guardian, Charlie has to teach the kid about life and how to get by using your wits. The Kid is paired with the half hour short "Idle Class" in which the Chaplin plays two roles set in a golf resort.
Also this weekend The Circus provides the perfect setting for the Little Tramp. Erroneously accused of being a pickpocket, the Tramp flees from the police and encounters this magical world where, always seeking happiness, he falls in love with the equestrienne. The Tramp finds that trying to be a funny clown doesn't work, but his unselfconscious behavior certainly is.
The Gold Rush shows Friday, March 11th; The Kid screens with "Idle Class" on Saturday, March 12th, and The Circus plays Sunday, March 13th. All are new, gorgeous 35-millimeter black-and-white prints, and all three programs begin at 7:30 p.m. at Webster University's Winifred Moore Auditorium. For more information and the current schedule, you may call 314-968-7487 or you may go to the web at webster.edu/filmseries.