Sunday, August 24, 2014
Written, directed, edited, scored, and starring Charles Chaplin, Shoulder Arms is a war comedy where the Tramp becomes part of the French army during World War I as he thinks about what he will do in war. The film is a comedy on the idea of war as Chaplin creates a film of what would happen if the Tramp was in battle. Also starring Edna Purviance, Henry Bergman, Albert Austin, Tom Wilson, and Sydney Chaplin. Shoulder Arms is an incredibly witty film from Charles Chaplin.
The film is a simple story where a soldier thinks about what he will do in a war as he deals with loneliness, his incompetence, and some of the actions that would eventually make him a hero. It is a film where Charles Chaplin has the Tramp in these situations as he deals with the silliness of war as well as the duties in being a soldier where he would eventually save a Frenchwoman (Edna Purviance) from the Germans. It’s a script that plays into some of the silly aspects of war and that sense of not knowing what to do when in battle where the Tramp had to do things in order to survive where he would even disguise himself as a tree at one point.
Chaplin’s direction is quite playful in the way he captures the idea of soldier formations and the idea of what happens if the Tramp is guarding in a trench that is rainy where he and his soldiers are sleeping inside a cave that is being flooded. It’s all part of Chaplin’s idea into the silly aspects of war where infuses a lot of humor that includes the Tramp opening a can of limburger cheese where he would unknowingly throw into the enemy trench. Much of the compositions are quite simple yet there’s that sense of energy that Chaplin puts into the humor as he would also capture that energy in his editing as it is straightforward as well as playful. Chaplin’s music score has this exuberance in its orchestral score, which he added in its 1957 reissue, where it plays into the humor as well as the romance between the Tramp and the Frenchwoman. Overall, Chaplin crafts a very delightful and every entertaining film about a soldier going to war.
Cinematographer Roland Totheroh does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to capture the murkiness of the drenched trenches as well as the images of the forests. Production designer Charles D. Hall does fantastic work with the set design of the trenches and camps as well as the German base where the Tramp beats up an army leader.
The film’s superb cast includes some notable small roles from Sydney Chaplin in a trio of roles as a drill sergeant, a comrade, and a Kaiser as well as Henry Bergman as a bartender, a German sergeant, and a field marshal, Tom Wilson as a wood-cutter, Austin Albert as an American officer and two different German soldiers, and Jack Wilson as a German Crown Prince who is the butt of many jokes for his troops. Edna Purviance is amazing as the Frenchwoman that the Tramp would save as she would also aid in the capture of a German officer. Finally, there’s Charles Chaplin as the Tramp where he manages to keep things very interesting in the way he guards the trenches or interact with soldiers and the enemy as it’s another fine performance from Chaplin.
Shoulder Arms is a marvelous film from Charles Chaplin as it’s one of the finest shorts he’s done. Especially as he makes fun of the idea of war and what soldiers have to go through in a comical manner. In the end, Shoulder Arms is a brilliant film from Charles Chaplin.
Charles Chaplin Films: (Twenty Minutes of Love) - (Caught in the Rain) - (A Busy Day) - (Her Friend the Bandit) - (Mabel’s Married Life) - (Laughing Gas) - (The Face On the Bar Room Floor) - (Recreation) - (The Masquerader) - (His New Profession) - The Rounders - (The Property Man) - (The New Janitor) - (Those Love Pangs) - (Dough & Dynamite) - (Gentlemen of Nerve) - (His Musical Career) - (His Trysting Place) - (Getting Acquainted) - (His Prehistoric Past) - (His New Job) - (A Night Out) - (The Champion) - (In the Park) - (A Jitney Elopement) - (The Tramp) - (By the Sea (1915 film)) - (His Regeneration) - (Work (1915 film) - (A Woman) - (The Bank) - (Shanghaied) - (A Night in the Snow) - (Burlesque on Carmen) - (Police (1916 film)) - (Triple Trouble) - (The Floorwalker) - (The Fireman) - (The Vagabond) - (One A.M. (1916 film)) - (The Count) - (The Pawnshop) - (Behind the Screen) - (The Rink) - (Easy Street) - (The Cure (1917 film)) - (The Immigrant (1917 film)) - (The Adventurer) - A Dog‘s Life - (The Bond) - Sunnyside - A Day’s Pleasure - (The Professor) - The Kid - The Idle Class - Pay Day - The Pilgrim - A Woman of Paris - The Gold Rush - The Circus - City Lights - Modern Times - The Great Dictator - Monsieur Verdoux - Limelight - A King in New York - (A Countess from Hong Kong)
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