6.9/10
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Shoulder Arms (1918)

Not Rated | | Comedy, War | 27 October 1918 (USA)
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:
...
...
...
Charlie's Comrade / The Kaiser (as Sydney Chaplin)
...
Short German Officer
Henry Bergman ...
Tom Wilson ...
Dumb German Wood-Cutter
Albert Austin ...
Jack Wilson ...
Crown Prince
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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:

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Release Date:

27 October 1918 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charlot soldat  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

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

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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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

In the woods, where Chaplin runs to hide from the pursuing Germans, automobiles are visible traveling on a highway on the horizon. 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

Featured in Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Tramp Goes To War
29 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

The big names in cinema tried to do their part for the war effort, and Charlie Chaplin was no exception. This patriotic and propagandist picture, "Shoulder Arms", is part of his contribution, although the war was nearly over by the time of its release. The tramp goes to war, humorously accomplishes acts of heroism and kicks the Kaiser in the bum. It's a very funny film, although I don't think it nearly one of his best. It's with "A Dog's Life" as his better output for First National before he made his early masterpiece "The Kid". They were his first three-reelers, which contain sustained, more elaborate gags than he could usually orchestrate in his two-reel shorts at Mutual.

It can be difficult to balance a pro-war message with slapstick antics and scenes of burlesque on the front, but one wouldn't think so watching "Shoulder Arms". It's also preferable in many respects to a "more serious", dramatic work with a similar message, such as Griffith's "Hearts of the World". Chaplin had become a true virtuoso of screen comedy by this time; he makes it look effortless. He knew very well by then that a film with fewer gags--with more elaboration, refinement and careful timing--could be better than any knockabout, Keystone-type farce with a dozen pratfalls a minute. The sequence where Chaplin is disguised as a tree is a pertinent example. Even with wars raging, Chaplin can lift the spirits of millions.


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