Shoulder Arms

Shoulder Arms is Charlie Chaplin's second film for First National Pictures. Released in 1918, it is a silent comedy set in France during World War I. It co-starred Edna Purviance and Sydney Chaplin, Chaplin's elder brother.

Shoulder Arms
Shoulder Arms poster.jpg
Theatrical poster to Shoulder Arms
Directed byCharlie Chaplin
Produced byCharlie Chaplin
Written byCharlie Chaplin
StarringEdna Purviance
Sydney Chaplin
CinematographyRoland Totheroh
Edited byCharles Chaplin
Distributed byFirst National Pictures
Release date
October 20, 1918
Running time
36 minutes
LanguagesSilent film
English intertitles
The full film


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.

Credited castEdit


Shoulder Arms proved to be Chaplin's most popular film, critically and commercially, up to that point. A review in the October 21, 1918 New York Times was typical:

"'The fool's funny,' was the chuckling observation of one of those who saw Charlie Chaplin's new film. Shoulder Arms, at the Strand yesterday—and, apparently, that's the way everybody felt. There have been learned discussions as to whether Chaplin's comedy is low or high, artistic or crude, but no one can deny that when he impersonates a screen fool he is funny. Most of those who go to find fault with him remain to laugh. They may still find fault, but they will keep on laughing."

The film was very revolutionary for its time, introducing a new genre of comedy. Previously, films had treated war as a serious subject. This is believed to be the very first comedy film about war.[1]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  1. ^ Flom, Eric L. (July 11, 2015). Chaplin in the Sound Era: An Analysis of the Seven Talkies (reprint ed.). McFarland. p. 25. ISBN 978-1476607986. Retrieved February 23, 2021.