A gold prospector in Alaska struggles to survive the elements and win the heart of a dance hall girl.
I've got to admit I was more than a little moved when the Tramp was stood up by Georgia. The lush music was doing a lot of the work there — in case anyone is looking for it, the music is adapted from the Romanze from Brahms's Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118.
We are introduced to [Chapin] as he slides along a precipitous mountain path with his trademark waddle, completely unaware of the bear that briefly shadows him (and will later reappear). As ever, only perhaps more so, he is the little man in a world populated by giants […] the audience’s surrogate amid the confusion of the early twentieth century, before the tide turned toward supermen around the time of World War II.
— Lucy Sante (Criterion)
[In 1942, Chaplin] cut the intertitles, penned and recorded his own “descriptive dialogue” to replace them, and wrote a musical score, all to make his 17-year-old masterpiece commercially viable once again. It’s this version, reduced to 72 minutes from 88, that Chaplin called “definitive” […] and because his estate persists in this claim, it’s so labeled on the sleeve of this Criterion Collection edition. Don’t believe it. […] (Foreshadowing George Lucas: Chaplin also changed a plot detail to make hard-hearted Hale more of a softie, and altered the original ending by excising a kiss with her, perhaps to dismiss any remnant of his affair with the actress.) Play the restored 1925 cut, which is augmented with an adaptation of the fine 1942 score, and if you have kids, read the titles to them.
— Bill Weber (Slant Magazine)