AWOL, Or, All Wrong Old Laddiebuck


This short film was made in about 1919 by Charles R. Bowers (1889‒1946), a slapstick comedian and cartoonist, and distributed by the American Motion Picture Corporation, as a cautionary tale for troops impatient to return home after the November 1918 armistice that ended World War I. A “laddiebuck” or “laddybuck” was a mildly insulting slang term—a lad is a boy or young man, and a buck here refers to a young horse—hence, this laddiebuck is an ill-mannered youth, like an unbroken horse. He is complaining to his fellow soldiers about the delay in their discharge, but the others believe Uncle Sam is doing his best for them. The laddiebuck goes to the window from where he is beckoned over by pretty Joy, also called Miss AWOL (Absent Without Leave), and the two drive off on a series of madcap adventures. He is tried by Judge Gloom on a charge of joyriding and fined; however, he immediately repeats his crime. He and Joy tear away, but the next adventures are a series of mishaps that end with Joy driving the car up a tree and then deserting him for another poor fool. At the camp, the officer in charge has just finished congratulating his soldiers on their faithful service and good conduct, when Old Laddiebuck skulks back; to a man, they turn their backs on him. Later, he watches from the guard house as they joyfully head home. Like Charley Bowers’ other films, this one shows an inventive freshness and slapstick comedy. It is preserved in a collection of silent animated films at the Library of Congress, with an introduction by Joy A. McIntire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

American Motion Picture Corporation, United States


Title in Original Language

AWOL, all wrong old Laddiebuck


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 reel (6 minutes 40 seconds) : animated, black-and-white ; 35 millimeters

Last updated: November 14, 2017