Public Domain Theater: The Gold Rush (& “The Frozen North”)

Welcome to Public Domain Theater, your home for the wonderful world of films that have (in the United States, at least) fallen into the public domain, and are free for everyone to see!

This time around … okay, you probably don’t need me hyping up this one. It’s Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, the most famous film from possibly the most famous film comedian of all time. If you’re at all interested in older films (and if you aren’t, this is a weird place to visit), giving this one a go is a no-brainer.

So instead I’ll draw your attention to our accompanying short film, “The Frozen North”, starring Buster Keaton. Yes, more than one silent filmmaker saw comedic potential in the arctic environs of North America. But where The Gold Rush mixes hilarious set pieces with a moving dose of sentimentality, “The Frozen North” is a pure, manic farce. Unlike Chaplin’s The Tramp, Keaton plays a scoundrel without an ounce of sentiment to him, and the whole thing embraces zany, over-the-top, and merciless humor. If you animated this short, it could pass as a Looney Tunes cartoon with ease.

So pick your silent film superstar of choice, and take a trek up North to witness these comedic gems from the public domain!

Opening Short:

Feature Presentation: