Film: 9936

Feature Comedy | 1920 | Silent | B/W

Synopsis:

Comedy about a bumbling soldier who doesn't realise the war has ended because he was taken prisoner for the duration. He ends up posing as a King and signing a peace treaty.

Intertitle - "Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, when the dove of peace tied tin cans to the tails of the dogs of war".
A New York street, tall buildings, streamers falling down onto the street. Crowds of people are celebrating and flags are waved. Intertitle - "and then". A large ship docked. The Statue of Liberty. Close-up of the returning soldiers on the ship waving. A uniformed man with a moustache sits at a desk and writes. Intertitle - "Every soldier who went overseas has been accounted for…except one". An empty battlefield with one tree. A solitary figure comes over a hill in the distance. Close-up of the soldier looking lost. Intertitle - "The soldier who was not accounted for, he didn't know the war was over". The soldier looks around with his hand above his eyes. Intertitle - "Hey! Army!". He calls out and looks confused and he scratches his head. He sits down and looks forlorn. He pulls a book from his pocket which reads "my war diary". Series of extracts from his diary - "Merry Xmas, arrived front line trenches today. Have seen no Germans yet". "Saw my first German today and he took me prisoner". Date reads November 11, 1918 - "Escaped from prison camp today while German guards were celebrating something or other". "Still hungry, unless I find my army I'll starve". He sits writing further entries. A portly man with glasses and a cap walks over to a tree stump and kneels down with some wire. Intertitle - "After the war the farmers of Bohemia used the left over powder to blow up stumps". He pushes some dynamite into the base of the stump and covers it with earth. He quickly runs away and it blows up releasing a plume of dark smoke. The soldier jumps and looks up. He nervously grabs his gun and stands ready for action. Another explosion and a lump of bark lands at his feet. He runs and jumps into a hole. Another explosion, he jumps out of the hole and a piece of bark lands on his hand. Cowering he pulls out his diary and writes another entry - "the artillery has located me, will try and hold this post to the finish". He stands up in the hole and sees a figure in the distance (a scarecrow). He aims and shots the head off. The farmer is setting more dynamite. He runs away from the stump and slides down the hill where the soldier is standing and covers his ears. The soldier runs away from the farmer towards the smoking dynamite and hides by the stump. The farmer sees him and shouts to him to get out of the way. Intertitle - "Dynamite! Run, you dumb-bell!". The soldier doesn't understand the language and remains where he is. Close-up of behind him and the cord leading to the dynamite smoking between his legs. The farmer continues shouting and motioning for him to move. The soldier edges closer to him. Intertitle - "You can't fool me, I'm not taking any chances on you fellows!". He sits defiantly on the tree stump and the farmer jumps up and down. The soldier crosses his legs. Intertitle - "If you want to surrender, come over here!". The farmer gives up, covers his ears with his hands and lowers himself into the hole. The soldier begins to edge towards him with his gun. The gun hooks up the dynamite and he crawls towards the hiding farmer. The farmer peeks out of the hole and sees the soldier coming towards him with the dynamite dragging behind and he leaps out of the hole to run away. A chase ensues.

Intertitle - "The Capital of Bohemia still reeked with Red Rebellion...and wine" An exquisite palace with crowds of people outside. Inside the palace, a long marble floor, curtains open and people walk towards a throne. Intertitle - "King Strudel the 13th, a reigning Monarch who was always pouring himself a drink...also played by Harry Langdon". The King in fine clothes reclines in his throne. The throne is elaborately decorated with faces carved on the arms. He looks sozzled. A large man with a curly moustache talks to him. Intertitle - "Sire, stop the rebellion, we haven't paid for the last one". A servant brings the King a drink and other subjects wait in the background. Behind a curtain a uniformed man listens to the conversation. He has a thin moustache and tuft of a beard. Intertitle - "General Von Snootzer, a crooked schemer who wanted the rebellion to go on". He motions to two men and whispers to them. Intertitle - "If he stops the rebellion, we'll have to go to work!". The Queen descends the stairs with two women behind her. Intertitle - "The Queen of Bohemia who had learned too late that her regal spouse was a royal souse". Close-up of her solemn face. The moustached man continues to plead with the King who slops his wine and slumps on the throne. The Queen walks over to him and pushes him upright again.
The soldier is in a field with a bucket standing next to a cow. He moves around the cow looking perplexed. Intertitle - "Spit it out!". He points and pleads with the cow and then listens to it's stomach. He turns and covers his ears. Another explosion and the cow bolts off. He finds the cow missing and debris falls from the sky. He sits on the bucket and points at what he thinks is a piece of the cow. Intertitle - "I told you to cough it up!".
The King sits drinking at the palace. The moustached man pleads him again. Intertitle - "Sign the treaty, Sire, or get ready to make wood with Cousin Wilhelm!". The King responds. Intertitle - "Cousin Willie wasn't smart like we are". He stands up and falls straight in the arms of the gathered subjects. He stumbles around. Intertitle - "It's time for our royal nap, come back at two o' clock!". The King stumbles into the curtain which falls up top of him. General Snootzer and his men seize him. The general and his men horses gallop by the soldier and the cow on horses. They pick up the soldier between them and carry him along the road. Intertitle - "Two o' clock came between one and three as usual". The palace, the king's confidantes await his arrival. The soldier dressed in the King's robes enters looking confused. The moustached man makes an announcement - "The King is coming to sign the Peace Treaty!". The soldier remains in the corner and munches on some fruit from a nearby bowl. The moustached man comes over to him and straightens him up. Intertitle - "Brace up and act like a King!" The moustached man pulls at his gown. Intertitle - "When do we eat?". The man puts a crown on the soldier's head and leads him to the waiting people. Intertitle - "Follow me and don't stumble over your feet". The soldier takes a wrong turn and ends up behind the waiting people. He walks around them and approaches a bearded man. Intertitle - "Is there going to be a parade or something?". The man bows and the soldier is taken aback. He feels the man's head to see if he is unwell. Intertitle - "He's sick, get him a headache powder!". The man's wig comes off in his hands and he throws it on the floor and stamps on it. The whole row of waiting people have bowed their heads and the soldier is perplexed. Intertitle - "What this country needs is prohibition!" Two attractive women in short sleeveless dresses blow horns on the stairs. The Queen arrives at the top with two ladies in waiting. The assembled subjects turn and bow towards her. The Queen looks at her husband with disdain. Intertitle - "I'll make him pay for his drunken insults!". The moustached man comes to the soldier's side. Intertitle - "Who's that sweet mamma?". The man looks shocked. Intertitle - "S-s-s-h, that's the Queen!". Intertitle - "Oh, I see, Mrs King!". The Queen returns upstairs and the soldier is urged into the throne by the moustached man. Intertitle - "Remember you're King no matter what happens!". A servant brings the treaty and gives the soldier a quill. Intertitle - "How must I sign it, John W. King?". He signs and the moustached man waves it in the air. Intertitle - "Peace at last! Tell the Standing Army it can sit down!". The people celebrate and throw streamers into the air. The general looks on displeased. Intertitle - "There's something rotten in Denmark here!". People outside the palace cheer and celebrate. The people leave the palace leaving the soldier on his throne with two servants. One of the general's men rushes over to him. Intertitle - "What are you doing here?". The soldier looks defiant. Intertitle - "I'm the King!". A servant offers him a tray with a glass of wine which he declines. The general's man laughs. Intertitle - "What's wrong with the royal thirst today?". Intertitle - "I'm on the water wagon!". The soldier stands up and calls to the moustached man. Intertitle - "Hey! Moustache, come here!". He comes over. Intertitle - "Tell him who's King around here". The general's man points at the soldier. Intertitle - "He's not the King, he's a rank impostor!". Intertitle - "He has insulted your royal person, punish him!". The soldier gestures to his two waiting servants and runs his finger across his neck. Intertitle - "..right behind the ears". The bow and take the general's man away. The soldier sits happily on the throne and then begins to look worried. He goes over to the curtain where the man was taken. A fake head rolls through the curtain followed by a headless body. Intertitle - "Honestly, I didn’t mean it". The soldier runs off. The Queen's bedroom. Two ladies find the soldier back on his throne and bow. Intertitle - "Sire, the Queen awaits you in her boudoir". They lead him to the Queen's bedroom. Very comic scene. She is lying down looking sultry. She beckons him towards her but he is more interested in the food on the table. He sits beside her eating. She strokes his arm. Intertitle - "Do you remember when we picked daffodils together?" They stand and she embraces him. Intertitle - "Kiss me!" She holds a knife in her hand and holds it behind his head. He finishes chewing and kisses her. She drops the knife and lies back with pleasure. He continues eating. Intertitle - "you're a pretty fair cook for a Queen". He sits on the bed and she walks over to him. Intertitle - "Kiss me again!". She falls to his feet and he kisses her. She falls back again overwhelmed by his kiss. He falls asleep on the bed and she tries to wake him.

End


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