Child star Frank "Junior" Coghlan's final film on his DeMille-Pathe contract was the military-academy drama Square Shoulders. After the death of his mother, young Tad (Coghlan) is made a ward of a newsboy's home. Proud of the Distinguished Service Cross left to him by his reportedly dead war-hero father, Tad organizes his fellow "newsies" into an ersatz army. His authority is challenged by wealthy military-school cadet Eddie (Phillipe De Lacy), but after an initial scrap, Tad and Eddie become good pals. Later on, when Tad is left a hefty sum of money by an unknown benefactor, he signs up at the same academy attended by Eddie. Little does Tad suspect that the academy's seedy stablehand Slag (Louis Wolheim) is actually his own father, who did not die on the battlefield but instead spent several years in prison. Not even after Slag sacrifices his own life to save Tad's does the boy ever learn the truth. Conceived as a silent film, Square Shoulders was transformed into a "talkie" by the expedient of adding sound to the final reel (unfortunately, only the silent version survives). Also appearing in the film are two second-generation Hollywoodites, Erich Von Stroheim Jr. and Chuck Reisner Jr. (later known as Dean Reisner).