38 user 22 critic

Shoulder Arms (1918)

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


Charles Chaplin (uncredited)


Charles Chaplin




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


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


A foot bathtub, a rat trap, a phonograph, a cabbage shredder, a drip pan and an egg beater are on Charlie Chaplin's list of equipment needs when he prepares to battle the Huns in his second million dollar picture, "Shoulder Arms" (Print Ad-The Cambridge Times, ((Cambridge, Ohio)) 13 February 1919) See more »


Short | Comedy | War


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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


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 »


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


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 »


Referenced in Charlie Chaplin: The Forgotten Years (2003) See more »

User Reviews

Chaplin wins the war
25 March 2011 | by sraweber369See all my reviews

Charlie Chaplin wins the war single handedly in this funny amusing film. This was one of Chaplins most successful films and is easy to see why. Made at a time when people needed a diversion from one the most terrifying wars ever Chaplin fins a light hearted way to make people feel good for a while.

The film starts with him having some funny problems in boot camp when he falls a sleep he finds himself being deployed to to trenches of France and immediately has problems manicuring inside the trench, He finally goes over the top rescues a friend, falls in love with a french lady, and then captures the Kaiser.

It is all rather light hearted and very amusing a good film to see

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Official Sites:

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None | English

Release Date:

27 October 1918 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charlot soldat See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(TCM print) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

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

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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