The Bank Dick (Edward F. Cline, 1940, USA)

The Bank Dick (1940) is widely regarded as one of W.C. Fields' most acclaimed films. No less than Stanley Kubrick listed it as one of his favorite films of all time. The film was directed by Edward F. Cline, a director who collaborated often with Fields on such films as You Can't Cheat an Honest ManMy Little Chickadee, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. The screenplay is attributed to "Mahatma Kane Jeeves", which of course was a pen name for Fields. In the film, Fields plays a man named Egbert Souse. He accidentally prevents a bank robbery from happening and ends up being hired as the security guard. Souse gets involved with a scam with his son-in-law Og, but things eventually work out in the end. Most notably, there is a car chase scene, and Fields becomes a film director.

The film follows the similar Fields archetype, wherein he plays a henpecked husband in an unpleasant marriage, with a daughter who has an eager suitor. Fields is more restrained here, his drunken and bumbling persona hard at work. Sometimes it is easy to miss the funny comments and remarks that he makes, as he is often muttering things under his breath. The film picks up toward the end, but altogether this is a more restrained Fields and doesn't have quite the same energy as an earlier work like It's a Gift. Some fun elements - two characters named Filthy McNasty and J. Pinkerton Snoopington. Notably, the film also features an appearance from Shemp Howard (otherwise known as one of the Three Stooges) as a barkeep. Overall, The Bank Dick is a solid entry in the W.C. Fields canon, although It's a Gift still is perhaps the best film. Those who like their humor dry and sarcastic, they will enjoy The Bank Dick



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