is a 1918 short film starring and directed by Charlie Chaplin
. In this film, Charlie is an American doughboy fighting in World War I
. After an opening sequence showing Charlie's incompetence at basic training, the film cuts to the trenches of France. Charlie goes over the top, dons a gas mask to deal with Limburger cheese, and goes on a dangerous scouting mission behind enemy lines, where he meets a pretty French girl (regular Chaplin leading lady Edna Purviance).
Originally intended to be a feature film, with two long sequences removed
—one where Charlie is a Henpecked Husband
who's glad to get his draft notice, and another comic sequence dealing with Charlie's medical examination. Shoulder Arms
, released three weeks before the Armistice, is possibly the first comedic war movie ever made.
- All Just a Dream: The final 3/4 or so of the film, namely all of Charlie's adventures in France, turns out to be a dream that Charlie has while in boot camp.
- California Doubling: The film was shot in the vicinity of Hollywood in 1917, and it shows. One visible example is the scene where Charlie, disguised as a tree, is chased by German soldiers. Look closely, and you will spot a highway in the background, with cars. 1917 Germany didn`t have this accomodation. The California mountains are also visible (and possibly the same spot where Willow Rosenberg would try to destroy the world about eighty years later).
- Couldn't Find a Lighter: Charlie holds his cigarette above the trench, and a German sniper lights it with a bullet.
- Gray Rain of Depression: As Charlie stands guard in the trench during a torrential rainstorm, he thinks about life back home and the bar he used to patronize.
- Historical-Domain Character: Kaiser Wilhelm II!
- Literal Ass Kicking: It's not often one gets the chance to kick the Emperor of Germany in the butt.
- Mobile Shrubbery: Charlie is sent behind German lines, disguised as a tree, in order to gain intelligence. Unfortunately, a German soldier decides to chop him down for firewood.
- Nameless Narrative: Typical for Chaplin's films.
- The Neidermeyer: The obnoxious, diminutive German officer who berates and abuses his men. When Charlie turns the officer over his knee and spanks him, the German soldiers cheer.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The American assault on the German trench results in Charlie capturing thirteen enemy soldiers. When his astonished CO asks how he did it, Charlie answers "I surrounded them."
- Sweet Polly Oliver: The French girl dresses up as a German soldier to help Charlie and Charlie's buddy get past the guards. Charlie smears axle grease on her lip to simulate a mustache.