Civil War Wiki

Cohen Saves the Flag is a 1913 U.S. comedy film directed and produced by Mack Sennett, and starring Ford Sterling and Mabel Normand.


Cohen (Ford Sterling) and his rival Goldberg (Henry Lehrman) enlist in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Goldberg receives a lieutenant’s commission while Goldberg is a private. During the Battle of Gettysburg, Cohen’s inadvertently becomes a hero when he tosses back an enemy hand grenade and raises a fallen flag in the midst of the conflict. Goldberg conspires to have Cohen shot by a firing squad, but Cohen’s girlfriend Rebecca (Mabel Normand) rides to the rescue and details Cohen’s battlefield bravery. Cohen is hailed for his valor and later exacts revenge on Goldberg.


Cohen Saves the Flag was a part of Mack Sennett’s "Cohen" series that used a burlesque of Jewish stereotypes for its humor. Typical of the film’s comedy is having Cohen chased into a pigsty, where he views the porcine residents with nervous apprehension – this is an obvious riff on the Jewish prohibition on eating pork.[1]

Sennett set up his production company for Cohen Saves the Flag alongside Thomas H. Ince’s epic The Battle of Gettysuburg. Sennett staged his battlefield scenes on the edge of Ince’s production, capturing Ince’s grand wartime sequences for his film while keeping the Cohen Saves the Flag cast discreetly out of Ince’s camera range. Today, The Battle of Gettysburg is considered a lost film, and all that remains of that endeavor are the battlefield scenes appropriated by Sennett for his slapstick film.[2]


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