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Life in the United States Army (1911)

A young man out of work is attracted by the United States Army posters and after questioning the sergeant on duty decides to enlist. He is brought before the recruiting officer where, after... See full summary »


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A young man out of work is attracted by the United States Army posters and after questioning the sergeant on duty decides to enlist. He is brought before the recruiting officer where, after a preliminary examination, including reading and writing, he is sent to the recruiting depot. Arriving with a number of other recruits from various parts of the country, he undergoes the final examination. Heart, lungs, eyes and ears must be in perfect condition. His fingerprints are forwarded to Washington. Only after the examination has been safely passed is the oath of allegiance administered. He is taught the drills, manual of arms and the routine of army life. Swimming, running, baseball, football, boxing, motion pictures, billiards, etc., all these tend to break the monotony of barrack life. We follow our recruit to the coast artillery corps, where the heavy guns in the service are shown at target practice. The target, thirty by sixty feet, is towed about six miles to sea. The gun is trained ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Documentary | Short





Release Date:

21 November 1911 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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All this is not only adventurous but instructive
10 May 2016 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

From its general merit, this film will probably stand unique for a long time to come in one respect. It is the first of its kind and may be the only one ever secured which shows the actual working of the heaviest batteries used in our coast defense system. There may be sixteen- inch guns in isolated positions, but the long twelve-inch rifles of the disappearing pattern constitute the most powerful weapons used in groups in our modern fortifications. This fact is no secret, as the forts themselves have long been open to visitors, and many batteries, notably those south of Fort Wadsworth, New York lower bay, could until recently be seen without entering territory controlled by the Government. But, while those interested in the operating of great guns have witnessed their loading and firing in target practice, the great mass of people defended by these arms have but faint conception of their efficiency; the idea prevails that they are huge cannons throwing a costly projectile and depending largely upon chance for hitting a moving target like a battleship attempting to enter a harbor. The element of chance is, however, as nearly eliminated as in any exact science or perfect engineering construction. The chances are that they will hit. This is shown in the Edison film, where a moving target 30 by 60 feet, towed six miles out at sea, is blown to pieces. This remarkable piece of camera work traces the shot from the moment of loading when the gun is out of the enemy's sight, shows the working of the breech-block, the sighting while the gun is below, the monster when rising, firing and recoiling, from within, and the firing from the crest of the parapet. It is something of an exploit to photograph the muzzle of a great gun when the shell is driven from it. The most powerful gun ever built by the Krupps has a range of less than thirteen miles; the rifled monsters completing for the sea coast defense of the United States and insular possessions have a range of twenty-two miles. The explosive force of even the twelve-inch guns must be terrific and the wonder is that camera and operator could stand it while near enough to the muzzle for effective photography. We next see in the Edison film, from another point of view, the effect of the shot whether striking within a few feet of the moving target or demolishing it. All this is not only adventurous but instructive, an object lesson to those who glibly discuss the possibility of foreign invasion. Every interfering force of wind and tide is calculated in the range finding, so that the blow struck is one of scientific accuracy and the effect on the intruding battleship can only be imagined when it is considered that the destruction of the French battleship "Liberté" would be that of a slightly damaged vessel in comparison. It is cheering to see the Edison Company entering upon the productions of educational films on this side of the water, while the French are combining the X-ray machine and the motion picture camera so as to create actual pictures of what is going on within the human body. More than one producer is shy about assuming the attitude of a teacher, but others are showing an open-minded spirit in dealing with the relation of moving pictures to education. It is now being appreciated that people enjoy what is really instructive, though it is especially liked when it presents some curious novelty or recent discovery. I have sat through a presentation of monotonous drama of the hero- villain-maiden type, where the hero and maiden embrace as little defects appear to show that the end of the film is arriving, and heard no other approval than that of children. Yet a subject purely historical or one of elementary science would receive a sudden outburst of spontaneous applause. I venture, therefore, to speak for the small minority at picture shows who are uncultivated in stating that they more than the highly educated are deeply interested in attractively-presented scientific or historical information tending to raise them to a higher plane. Those behind in the race are eager to catch up; they are desirous of knowing more than they do, aiming down to them is an offense to all above them and of no benefit to anyone in the audience, whereas whatever is interesting and at the same time progressive appeals to all classes. - The Moving Picture World, November 4, 1911

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