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Other W.C. Fields films?


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I wonder why TCM shows only one W.C. Fields film, and repeats only it?

 

In the late 1960s I saw a Fields film festival at a theater in Berkeley, over a period of weeks, and they showed high quality 35 mm prints of:

 

Shorts:

 

The Golf Specialist

The Dentist

The Fatal Glass of Beer

The Pharmacist

The Barber Shop

 

Features:

 

Million Dollar Legs

If I had a Million

International House

Tillie and Gus

Alice in Wonderland

Six of a Kind

You're Telling Me!

The Old Fashioned Way

Mr. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch

It's a Gift

David Copperfield

Man on the Flying Trapeze

Poppy

The Big Broadcast of 1938

You Can't Cheat an Honest Man

My Little Chickadee

The Bank Dick

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

 

Old AMC used to show a few of these films, and TCM has shown a couple of them at least once. Several of these are very good, such as Tillie and Gus and The Old Fashioned Way. All of the shorts are very good.

 

IMDB says they are now owned by Universal.

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I wonder why TCM shows only one W.C. Fields film, and repeats only it?

 

Since January of 2010 they've actually shown It's a Gift, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, If I Had a Million, David Copperfield, and The Bank Dick . But the first three of those were shown in January of 2010, and your overall point is valid. W.C. Fields is just about the only major actor I can think of who was shown more often in the movie theaters of the 60's and 70's than he is on TCM today.

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I agree. I wish more of Fields' stuff besides The Bank Dick (which was a pretty innapropriate choice for Essentials Jr.) and the oft-shown David Copperfield could be seen on TCM, who have come kind of close to tapping the Marx Brothers vein dry.

 

I remember TCM when showed It's a Gift and I missed it. I was so bummed.

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I like Fields well enough, but I'm not a major fan. I love Million Dollar Legs and David Copperfield, but of course he's not the major character in those films. But there's one Fields scene which I think is priceless and hilarious: the audition scene in The Old Fashioned Way, when Jan Duggan sings the interminable "Gathering Up the Shells on the Sea Shore" for Fields, who plays The Great McGonigle. I'd love to see The Old Fashioned Way on TCM.

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I agree that The Bank Dick isn't one of Fields' finest, but OTOH when that woman in the bank tells her son, "I bet you'd like to have a nose like that full of *NICKELS* ", that has got to be the best line in a Fields movie this side of the ending to If I Had a Million , when Allison Skipworth tells Fields, "Oh, Rollo, it's been a *glorious* day!"

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> {quote:title=AndyM108 wrote:}{quote}I agree that The Bank Dick isn't one of Fields' finest,

I must've phrased me response poorly because I would *definitely* say that The Bank Dick (in spite of the meandering first act) is one of the best comedies of all time and one of the best films of 1940 (a year which I actually thinks tops 1939 in quality.)

 

As to its being on Essentials Jr. it is a thoroughly innapropriate film for children, which is why I love it to pieces.

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> {quote:title=AddisonDeWitless wrote:}{quote}

> As to its being on Essentials Jr. it is a thoroughly innapropriate film for children, which is why I love it to pieces.

I was almost thinking the same thing while watching it (again) last night...the boozing, smoking, violence (mostly others hitting or throwing things at Fields), etc. Not trying to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but you're right...odd choice.

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I must've phrased me response poorly because I would *definitely* say that The Bank Dick (in spite of the meandering first act) is one of the best comedies of all time and one of the best films of 1940 (a year which I actually thinks tops 1939 in quality.)

 

As to its being on Essentials Jr. it is a thoroughly innapropriate film for children, which is why I love it to pieces.

 

That's funny, because our 10-year old goddaughter absolutely *loves* W.C. Fields, and The Bank Dick in particular. Why should adults have all the fun?

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I'm all for W.C. Fields being shown on "Essentials Jr." I saw *THE MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE* when I was 10 and loved it. I read the script for *THE BANK DICK* by the time I was 14. Fields' persona really isn't that much different from that of Adam Sandler or Jack Black, except that he's funny. Let's see more of him!

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THE BANK DICK is the summit of Universal comedies during the era of the Nate Blumberg regime. It's success is as much due to Fields as it is the director, Eddie Cline. Cline (one of the original Keystone Kops) had a great feel for tempo and for getting dry, witty performances from his actors. In addition to all of Fields' films (he finished YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN for George Marshall), he directed all of Olsen & Johnson's Universal features (H.C. Potter got the credit for HELLZAPOPPIN', but Cline did all the comedy and several of the musical sequences, which means 90% of the picture!).

 

There is a marked difference between Fields' Paramount and Universal features. It's almost like the Universal Fields is the "Bizarroland" version of the Paramount Fields. At Paramount, Fields was the irrascible family man, misunderstood by his domineering wife. At Universal, Fields had degenerated into genuine lechery but in such an outlandish manner as to be bewildering in a hilarious manner. He was completely devil-may-careless.

 

The Paramount films are progressive and deliberate, somewhat in the manner of the Hal Roach comedies. But the Universal features are far more aggressive and the kinetic effect on a theater-filled audience is often painful (in a belly-laugh good way).

 

The weakest of the films is probably MY LITTLE CHICKADEE, mainly because of a weak romantic plot in which neither Dick Foran's nor Joe Calleia's characters made much sense and slowed things down to a clip-clop.

 

The final film, NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK is the height (literally) of outlandishness and has no basis in reality (they very wisely cut a sequence with Anne Gwynne being killed - pathos had no place in THIS picture) and you will definitely need a bromo after seeing this one. It's also a testament to the studio's "let's have fun" atmosphere during their jivin jacks-and-jills period.

 

Bravo The Great Man!

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Excellent post, and I think you accurately pinpointed the major differences. But I want to look at the following statement you made for just a moment:

 

>At Paramount, Fields was the irrascible family man, misunderstood by his domineering wife. At Universal, Fields had degenerated into genuine lechery but in such an outlandish manner as to be bewildering in a hilarious manner.

 

I think this is not necessarily because Fields and his director were experimenting, but because they were trying to get around the production code. If they made his character lecherous, then it had to be unthreatening and unrealistic. They could say that Fields was portraying an illusion, a fantastic lunatic illusion.

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