Movie Monday: December 17, 1918

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Shoulder Arms Image
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Today, we are going waaaaaaay back…to 1918. On this date, Shoulder Arms, a Charlie Chaplin piece, was a very popular film. Was it a ‘number one’? Hard to tell. This film pre-dates the Academy Awards by 11 years. Starring Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Sydney Chaplin (Charlie’s elder, half-brother) and Tom Wilson, it is, primarily, a dream sequence set in France during World War I.

Plot from IMDB:

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. Then…fellow soldiers wake him from his dream. [edited for grammar]

From an archived New York Times article:

“”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. In “Shoulder Arms”, Chaplin is as funny as ever.” [edited for grammar]

Trivia Bits:
♦ 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.
♦ Released two weeks and one day before the end of World War I.

13 thoughts on “Movie Monday: December 17, 1918

    bottomlesscoffee007 said:
    December 17, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    I wish I coulda seen “They Will Not Grow Old”.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      December 17, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      Is that a movie or a documentary? Great clip. War IS useless.

        bottomlesscoffee007 said:
        December 17, 2018 at 9:59 pm

        I believe it is a documentary that is only playing in the U.S. today and one other day later this month

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          December 17, 2018 at 11:24 pm

          I just read that. Today, only and, Dec. 27. I wonder why just those two days. And, it’s done by Peter Jackson.

            bottomlesscoffee007 said:
            December 17, 2018 at 11:25 pm

            I had two buddies go tonight, they won’t stop talking about it. Really helps to somewhat put it in perspective from what they say.

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              December 17, 2018 at 11:28 pm

              I’d love to see it. American Heroes Channel always has plenty on WWII. They don’t have as much on WWI.

                bottomlesscoffee007 said:
                December 17, 2018 at 11:39 pm

                I always thought WW1 was the possibly the worst war.

                  The Hinoeuma responded:
                  December 18, 2018 at 12:20 am

                  I agree. I have seen documentaries of both & WWI always struck me as worse. Of course, Holocaust survivors would probably disagree.

    badfinger20 said:
    December 17, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Great movie by Chaplin. Everything by Chaplin or Keaton I like that was silent.

    theresaly520 said:
    December 24, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    My dad loves Charlie Chaplin! I bought him an DVD sets with all of his movies. He’s such an interesting fellow to watch on screen.

    jmshistorycorner said:
    December 25, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Haven’t seen it – or any Charlie Chaplin movie, for that matter.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      December 25, 2018 at 10:28 am

      I haven’t seen it or any Charlie Chaplin movie, either. I’m just reporting history.

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