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Shoulder Arms (1918)

 -  Comedy | War  -  20 October 1918 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 3,320 users  
Reviews: 29 user | 16 critic

Charlie is a boot camp private who has a dream of being a hero who goes on a daring mission behind enemy lines.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
The Girl
...
Doughboy
...
Charlie's Comrade / The Kaiser (as Sydney Chaplin)
Loyal Underwood ...
Short German Officer
Henry Bergman ...
Fat Whiskered Soldier / The Kaiser's General / Bartender
Tom Wilson ...
Dumb German Wood-Cutter
Albert Austin ...
American Soldier / Clean Shaven German Soldier / Bearded German Soldier
Jack Wilson ...
Crown Prince
Edit

Storyline

Charlie is in boot camp in the "awkward squad." Once in France he gets no letters from home. He finally gets a package containing limburger cheese which requires a gas mask and which he throws over into the German trench. He goes "over the top" and captures thirteen Germans ("I surrounded them"), then volunteers to wander through the German lines disguised as a tree trunk. With the help of a French girl he captures the Kaiser and the Crown Prince and is given a statue and victory parade in New York and then ... fellow soldiers wake him from his dream. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 October 1918 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Carlitos nas Trincheiras  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (1959 re-issue)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Many in Hollywood were nervous that one of their most famous peers was going to tackle the subject of WWI. It was released shortly before the Armistice so it did not help boost national morale. But it did end up as one of Charles Chaplin's most popular films and it was particularly popular with returning doughboys. See more »

Goofs

Charlie, disguised as a tree, enters a pipe to escape a German. When the German tries to pull Charlie out he seperates the lower part of the tree costume along with Charlie's shoes. When Charlie emerges from the other end of the pipe he is still wearing shoes. See more »

Quotes

Officer: How did you capture thirteen?
Recruit: I surrounded them.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The short opens with a title card showing a caricature of Chaplin dressed as a World War I soldier, and text reading "Shoulder Arms Written and Produced by" followed by a blank space. A live action hand appears and points to the title, then the drawing, then uses a piece of white chalk to sign "Charles Chaplin" in the blank space, then points to the caricature one more time. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Secret Life of Sergei Eisenstein (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Tramp Does His Bit
9 March 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Considering all of the comedies with a military situation that have been done in history, someone had to be the first. One could make a case that in Shoulder Arms, Charlie Chaplin invented the genre.

Hard to believe that back then this was a daring move. When you consider that some of the best films involving such people as Bob Hope, Abbott&Costello, Laurel&Hardy involved military service and made during war time, it's just something you accept and laugh at.

In the First World War Chaplin along with fellow stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford went out on bond tours. He was a great supporter of the Allied cause, unusual for someone of his left wing views. It would seem only natural that the Tramp would be drafted and unfortunately would flummox around and wreak havoc on all.

A lot of things you'd see in the service comedies of World War II got their start in Shoulder Arms. Chaplin had no more imitators because within a few weeks of the film's release, the war was over.

But a comedy art form had been established by one of comedy's greatest geniuses.


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