6.9/10
4,944
32 user 20 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.

Director:

Charles Chaplin (uncredited)

Writer:

Charles Chaplin
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edna Purviance ... The Girl
Charles Chaplin ... Doughboy (as Charlie Chapman)
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 Tom Wilson ... Dumb German Wood-Cutter
Albert Austin Albert Austin ... American Officer / Clean Shaven German Soldier / Bearded German Soldier
Jack Wilson 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

Taglines:

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)

Genres:

Comedy | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 October 1918 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charlot soldat See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

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

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Originally planned at five reels; outtakes were preserved in Charles Chaplin's private collection. True Boardman, Marion Feducha and Frankie Lee played Chaplin's sons in cut domestic scenes intended for the beginning of the film. Peggy Prevost and Nina Trask played draft-board clerks, Alfred Reeves a draft-board sergeant and Albert Austin a doctor in a cut scene at the draft-board office. See more »

Goofs

Charlie, disguised as a tree, enters a pipe to escape a German. When the German tries to pull Charlie out, he separates 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 Charlie Chaplin - Les années suisses (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Tramp Goes To War
29 August 2005 | by CineanalystSee 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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