In Shoulder Arms Chaplin is a doughboy. At the finish he captures the Kaiser, Crown Prince and Hindenburg.
At the opening he is the most awkward member of an awkward drilling squad. His trouble with his feet is terrific. After a long hike, Chaplin has heroic dreams of what he accomplishes as a private in the trenches over there.
Chaplin wrote and directed the story. His camouflage as a small tree, during which he runs through a wood is one of the best and most original pieces of comedy work ever put on a screen. There is some slapstick, laughably worked in, also pie-throwing with limburger cheese substituted. That occurs in the trenches.
The trenches are good production bits. There is fun also in the dug-out, with the water, and a floating candle burning one of the boys’ exposed toes.
Shoulder Arms includes much more action than generally found in a Chaplin comedy. With Chaplin in uniform without his derby hat and cane, it says that Charlie Chaplin is a great film comedian.