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Quite amusing movie, Fields seems very modern
Freycinet21 November 2004
The irreverent Fields gives spark to what would otherwise have been a quite humdrum comedy movie.

His politically incorrect jokes seem very present-day, and so makes you understand that the people back in the 1940's weren't so far removed from us as we sometimes think.

Fields is nasty to children, his wife and the bank examiner, whistles at pretty girls and in general just behaves terribly. You wouldn't think they would film stuff like that back in 1940, but Fields did. The movie is populated by crooks and phonies, as for instance the bank president, who says "let me give you a hardy handshake" and then just rests his hand lightly in Fields' for a second. It's a very observant and stinging visual commentary which tells more than many phrases: that's what films are good at, and it is used here to great effect.

The final car chase is really scary, with extra's ducking under cars with only inches to spare!
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Classic Comedy That Gets Even Better As It Goes Along
Snow Leopard4 October 2002
W.C. Fields uses his expert timing and his large collection of gags to make "The Bank Dick" a classic comedy that gets even better as it goes along. The amusing, tangled plot gives Fields plenty of material to work with, and the other characters also pitch in to keep you smiling.

After a few amusing introductory scenes that introduce Egbert Sousé, the kind of character Fields loved to play, things really start rolling once Egbert somehow manages to land a job as a bank detective. The wackier the plot gets, the more it shows just how effective Fields's dry style can be. His stoic character and the confusion going on around him often make a hilarious combination. It's very entertaining, goes by quickly, and is filled with comic detail that makes it just as funny when you watch it over again.
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Classic Fields!
Squonk18 May 1999
'The Bank Dick' is a wonderful piece of comedy from W.C. Fields. He plays the town loser, who is given a job as a bank security guard when it appears that he helped stop a bank robbery. Fields' scenes with Franklin Pangborn as the bank examiner are the highlight of the film. The climactic chase sequence, with Fields mentioning points of interest as he is chased by the police, is also hilarious. Only a sequence early in the film, in which Fields pretends to be a Hollywood film director, fails to delight. Overall, a comedy classic!
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Do you happen to live in a dysfunctional family? Congratulations!
SnorrSm198915 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The second to last film in which The Great Man starred is widely regarded as his signature work, a deserved estimation for a number of reasons. However, it should be stressed that this does not guarantee that it will preserve the curious into a fan: THE BANK DICK is a product so painstakingly characteristic for its creator that it may be required to view the comedy in context to him. With this film in 1940, W.C. Fields was at last considered powerful enough to do his whole act again, having been forced to perform on radio and only as a side-kick to other stars during the last few years, after his drinking habits had caused him severe illness. The Great Man was ready to confirm that his grit was still present; some would say more than ever before.

Problems were soon to occur, though. Universal objected to several parts of Fields's script, and hired a writer to change story structure and dialogue. Thankfully, experienced director Eddie Cline recognized which of the scripts that was superior; hence the original version passed by with minor changes. What remains is a comedy which appears surprisingly modern, not only in terms of humor but also in tone. Many viewers tend to express disappointment in the admittedly nail-thin thread to which the material is tied; and in the process, not recognizing the fact that a loose story is not necessarily a disadvantage. Having observed the dysfunctional family eating breakfast, we are hastily introduced to our hero Mr. Anti-Hero --a certain Egbert Sousé, that is-- replacing a movie director, only to soon witness his mishaps as a "Bank Dick." This lack of continuity serves at least one highly significant purpose: instead, we are presented with scenes to thoroughly characterize Sousé himself, along with his family and dubious associates. This focus on characterization is really from where the movie, and the comedy, evolves; for the most part, the eccentric personalities simply struggle to survive one another, with one hopeless dilemma leading to the next. Everything is a result of the previous. That is the one thing they know for sure in life.

Certain reviews and posts at the message board confirm that THE BANK DICK is not a comedy for the entire family, so to speak. Without underestimating the brilliance and originality of several of his contemporaries, it is a fact that screen comedy before Fields was, generally speaking, quite innocent and suitable for most ages. Problems in the family, controlling wives, and annoying children; sure, it had all served as sure-fire inspiration for all of the comedians at one time or another. However, what is unique when we see Fields confronted with such problems in THE BANK DICK, is that his character witnesses the mayhem from the perspective of a comparatively mature reality. When Laurel and Hardy, lovable as they are, elope from their wives, one can be quite certain that the women will take off in a pursuit immediately, emphasizing that what we are presented with is a truly cartoonish world, and we need not to worry about it. As a contrast, when Egbert's wife nags at her husband for smoking in the house, probably just in need for something to complain about, it's delivered in a way which seems almost uncomfortably close to a truly convincing, dysfunctional family atmosphere. So much so that, while hideously funny, much of the humor comes off as rather dark in essence. "Don't you dare strike that child!" "Well she's not gonna tell ME I don't love her!"

Apart from this, first-time viewers should be aware that based upon my experience, THE BANK DICK improves after each viewing. I did find it funny after first viewing, but much more so during the second time; having got more acquainted with the characters, I howled with laughter throughout. Numerous lines and sketches come to mind, but there is particularly one part which I simply can't resist mentioning here: bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington (played by ever-brilliant Frankling Pangborn) is offered a drink by Sousé --for reasons I will not reveal-- and consequently forced to bed due to a hangover worthy of acclaim. Helping the poor thing to bed, Sousé drops him out of the window, presumably by accident. The manner in which Fields rushes downstairs in order to save him, determined yet underneath quite matter-of-factly, is a brief moment of priceless comedy which beautifully demonstrates the comedian's ability to achieve subtlety into his acts, when it was required for. Sensitive cheek-bones should stay away, though.

Thank you for reading this review. Now, turn off your computer, put this film in the player and laugh your head off. THE BANK DICK may not be the very funniest film Fields ever made in my book (IT'S A GIFT and MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE share that nomination), and it seems totally deprived of the tiny soft spot which had often been present in previous Fields-films. Yet, the film easily presents the comedian at his most daring -- and purest. A feast of laughter from start to finish, once you get it.
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This is Just Too Funny
jeffy-316 August 2000
This is the second best Fields film (after It's a Gift) and it's similar in that it casts Fields as the lovable drunk with an absolutely hateful family. From the almost surreal episode directing the movie to the eye-poppingly ridiculous chase scene, this one is pure comic entertainment. One side note: it's sad and not a little scary how bloated and tired the Great Man looks in this compared to just six years earlier when It's a Gift was released.
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Classic Field's, Classic Comedy
John Langbein (medrjel)20 January 2002
This is a wonderful example of classic comedy from the late vaudeville era. Fields is brilliant in spite of the fact that he's far past his prime. The story is fun and timeless. I saw it years ago, and I have watched it a couple times since I got my DVD last week. It's a movie worth having on your shelf.
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The Accidental Hero
lugonian29 September 2005
THE BANK DICK (Universal, 1940), directed by Edward Cline, from an original story and screenplay by Mahatma Kane Jeeves, better known as W.C. Fields, stars none other than W.C. Fields in his third of four comedies for Universal, a classic in the sense of it becoming his most famous and admired works next to IT'S A GIFT (Paramount, 1934). Unlike YOU CAN CHEAT AN HONEST MAN (1939) where Fields loses screen time in favor with a ventriloquist act of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy; MY LITTLE CHICKADEE (1940) in which he divides his time with Mae West; and NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (1941) where he steps aside in favor for the singing of the teen-age Gloria Jean, THE BANK DICK is pure Fields from start to finish. As the head of a household of a dysfunctional family, with Fields playing the henpecked husband on screen for the last time, the supporting players consists of a fine assortment of character actors who can be just as funny as Fields himself and not draw attention away from him.

As for the story, set in the town of Lompoc, the focus obviously is on Egbert Souse, accent over the final "E" (W.C. Fields), an unemployed husband who spends much of his leisure time smoking cigarettes and hanging around the local bar, The Black Pussy Cat Cafe, as well as coping with Agatha, his wife, (Cora Witherspoon), Mrs. Hermisillo Brunch, his mother-in-law (Jessie Ralph), Myrtle, his adult daughter, (Una Merkel) and Elsie Mae Adele Brunch, the obnoxious youngster, (Evelyn Del Rio). Of the members in his family, only Myrtle, his eldest, understands him. Aside from being a character herself, she's is in love with the hayseed Og Oggilby (Grady Sutton), a bank teller who later encounters a couple of robbers at his window and forced to hand over a large sum of money at a point of a gun. When their getaway car is taken away, the crooks make a run for it by foot. Chased by the police, one gets away while the other is found by Souse seated on a bench nearby, making him a hero for "capturing the crook." In gratitude Souse is awarded a job as a special officer by Mr. Skinner (Pierre Watkin), the bank president. In order for Oggilby to earn enough money to marry Myrtle, Souse arranges for him to invest the bank's money on Beefstake Mines Stock, which finds Souse spending much time preventing the visiting bank examiner (Franklin Pangborn) from looking over the books to find a shortage. More complications occur when the bank gets robbed again with Souse being forced to take the driver's seat in another exciting car chase from the police.

Supporting players enacting under oddball names include Shemp Howard as Joe Guelpe, the bartender whose whistle to "Listen to the Mockingbird" entices Souse to follow him to the bar; Richard Purcell as Mackley Q. Greene; Russell Hicks as J. Frothingham Waterbury; Jack Norton as A. Pismo Clam; Bill Wolfe as Otis, with Jan Duggan, another favorite of the Fields stock players, once again doing a funny bit, playing a mother in the back whose son pokes fun of Souse's nose. While Al Hill is credited as Filthy McNasty in the credits, he is called Repulsive Rogan in the final story. As or the support provided by the diversified Una Merkel, her performance is unlike the assortment of starlets, ranging from Mary Brian, Judith Allen or Constance Moore as Fields' daughters playing their roles in a more serious-minded and caring nature while Merkel provides her role with comic flare and free-spirit. She was true to the sense amusing where comedy involving her is concerned. Merkel and Grady Sutton (in his final Fields comedy) make a perfect odd couple.

THE BANK DICK may have some flaws, such as having the audience accept the middle-aged Fields and Cora Witherspoon as parents to a minor child while physically they pass more as grandparents. However, overlooking such minor details, highlights include Souse filling in for a drunken director (Norton) of Tel-Avis Picture Productions, a movie company filming on location; Sousé getting the bank examiner (Pangborn) ill on a "Michael Finn" drinks in order to keep him from examining the books; the climatic car chase; and bank president Mr. Skinner on two separate occasions giving Sousé the "hearty hand clasp" in which Skinner's fingers barely touches Souse's outstretched palm heightened by going to a split-second freeze-frame. While the attention is focused more on Souses' outside activities than on his domestic affairs, one cannot ignore the underscoring to "There's No Place Like Home" used during each opening scene at the Souse household.

THE BANK DICK, along with MY LITTLE CHICKADEE, became the first of Fields' comedies to be distributed on cassette during the early days of home video in the 1980s. Other than frequent revivals on commercial television prior to 1990, THE BANK DICK assured popularity to a new generation when it shifted over to cable stations, first on American Movie Classics from 1995 to 1999, and after wards premiering on Turner Classic Movies in 2001.

Fields' fourth and final starring role for Universal being NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (1941) not only reunites him with Franklin Pangborn, but opens and closes with the same underscoring from THE BANK DICK as well as Fields, playing himself, seen standing in front of a billboard advertisement which reads "W.C. Fields in THE BANK DICK." Because of these similarities, these Fields comedies make logical choices as double features whether on television or a DVD package. As THE BANK DICK is a fun movie, it's kind of sad in a way watching this comedian named W.C. Fields, older and heavier, in what's to become the final phase to his long career. All good things come to an end but the legend of Fields and his movies lingers on.
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Matriarchy triumphant
ilprofessore-18 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Has there ever been a better satire on the hypocrisies of small-town life before the Second World War than this comic masterpiece of 1940? W.C. Fields as Egbert Sousé, accent grave on the e, is the victim of female tyranny and American matriarchy triumphant: his wife, his mother-in-law and his dreadful brat of a daughter all abuse him both verbally and physically; he bears their insults stoically with no other escape than the sanctity of the local saloon, poetically labeled The Black Pussy Café, the only place in town where he is treated with any semblance of respect by a bartender, Shemp Howard, one of the Three Stooges minus his other two brothers. Into this sanctuary wander bizarre representatives of the outside world, the real world —a sissified bank examiner (Franklin Pangborn); a slick traveling salesman peddling shares in the Beef Stake mine (Pierre Watkins); a harassed assistant director (Pat West) looking for a replacement for a drunken director.

Fields deals with them all with his usual nonchalance and cunning. He is existentially alone, mumbling asides to himself along the way, caring not if anyone listens, rarely complaining, making the best of whatever good or bad fortune that comes his way. In this American Dream turned on its head and upside down and sideways, Sousé, the forgotten man, turns out in the end to be a true hero through no fault or skill of his own, and is rewarded with a contract to direct a movie as well as a hearty hand clasp! A film not to be missed if you want to understand what this crazy nation is all about.
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All time classic and Fields best for sure
Jeffrey R. Dzik30 November 2005
This movie is so brilliant, it is almost sad that Fields did not make more movies than he did. As 1940 approached, he actually was doing his best work but was in deteriorating health through his death in 1946. This movie was all written and done under Field's supervision and a masterpiece it is.

The all time funniest scene in movie history, in my opinion, was when he gets the bank examiner, J. Pinkerton Snoopington drunk and sick and brings him back to the hotel he was staying at. When he allegedly falls out the window and Field's comes running down the stairs to retrieve him was so brilliantly executed, it's amazing. He moves the camera to the far side of the lobby which allows you to get the full view of him running down the stairs. While the content of this humor may seem ordinary, it was filmed and executed brilliantly and is forever etched in my mind as the single most funny scene I can think of in movie history.
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joyful comedy, asides, and the pleasures of smoking and drinking....
howlermonkey17 June 2003
a source of strange joy, even in its quiet and failed moments. great moments mostly mumbled and underplayed so that the film seems so humble and so unaggressive, unlike most comedies now which would wring your neck if they could...Fields' before-its-time irony and self-consciousness about moviemaking is revealed in a throwaway line during the car chase at the the midst of all the obviously speeded-up film and projection effects, Egbert Souse deadpans "you're going to make me have an accident....." I'm almost ready to move into Lompoc, with its Spanish-Americo chili parlor, and, I hope, "rivers of beer flowing over your grandmother's paisley shawl...." and, apparently, absinthe is still available....
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In Many Ways Fields Best Film
DKosty12329 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Even though Fields would go on to only do 2 more films, in many ways this film is his most satisfying effort of them all. He ghost wrote the script at Mahatma Kane Jeeves & the script is excellent. The sequences are all a perfect length & funny. The humor is Fields subtle quality & funny.

Fields often imagined himself as an accidental hero. In this film, his character Egbert Souse is exactly that. He plays the harried middle aged parent who battles his kids & his battle axed wife. He dreams of get rich quick schemes. One day on a park bench he is reading his paper when he accidentally foils a bank robbery.

From there, the comic possibilities multiply. His reward for foiling the robbery is a job as a bank guard. There he works with his future son-in-law. He gets his son-in-law into an unknowing stock scheme in Beef Stake mines using the banks money illegally.

Then when the bank examiner shows up, he connives with The Black Pussy Cafe owner (ably played by Shemp Howard) to delay the examiner. The stocks turns out to be a gold mine & the con man wants to buy it back. The future son-in-law is about to dump the stock back to the con man who sold it to him for little money because he needs to head off the bank examiner.

Fields finds out about the gold mine & stops him just in time. Then Fields gets involved with yet another bank robbery & him, the robber, the cash & the stock go on a wild car chase with the police. Fields actually borrowed parts of the chase from Harold Lloyds "Girl Shy" but then improved upon it.

After the chase, Fields daughter marries the now son-in-law from the bank & they move into a huge mansion on the Beef Stake mine money. Fields does a classic comic blackout to end the film.

The casting for this film all works very well & Fields material & comic timing are great. Even his advanced age stunts are well done. A fine film which still stands the test of time & made a lot of money for Universal when it was in theaters.
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W.C. Fields represents America's aspirations right before we entered WWII
Lee Eisenberg21 September 2007
As I understand it, W.C. Fields spent at least most of his career playing henpecked drunks. Believe it or not, "The Bank Dick" is the first of his movies that I've ever seen; and I really liked it. Fields plays Egbert Souse - with an acute accent on the E - a bored family man never too aware of his surroundings. One day, he accidentally stops a bank robber but is only too happy to take credit for it. So they make him a security guard.

Throughout parts of the movie, I wasn't sure whether it was going to be as funny as I usually like (and there was a scene portraying a black man in a manner that wouldn't be allowed nowadays), but it was quite entertaining overall and the whole chase was certainly beyond a hoot. I suspect that they had a lot of fun filming it. Moreover, one might interpret Fields's as a look at America's aspirations of getting out of the Depression (that's pure conjecture, so don't quote me).

So, having seen this movie, I understand what W.C. Fields's brand of humor constituted. One can see why Warner Bros. animation department liked to caricature him as a manipulative pig in some cartoons. Worth seeing.
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Parallel With The Great McGinty
bkoganbing30 September 2006
By probably nothing more than sheer coincidence W.C. Fields's greatest triumph, The Bank Dick, came out the same year as The Great McGinty, Preston Sturges's first directorial triumph. Interesting because I think the two films have the same exact theme.

It's an inverted view of the American dream in that any boob who happens to be in the right place at the right time can become an overnight success. Hard work, save your money, get an education, all that's nothing but hogwash. Well, at least get very good in arithmetic.

Meet Egbert Souse, henpecked American family man, wife, two daughters, and a harridan of a mother-in-law all under the same roof. Egbert is W.C. Fields's finest creation. From being bar room lounger, Souse rises to being a man of wealth and property merely by being in the right place on a few occasions in this film. Very similar to what Brian Donlevy did in The Great McGinty.

I've always loved the Dickensian names that Fields gave his characters in The Bank Dick. Og Ogilby is his sidekick and future aspirant son-in-law played by the ever flustered Grady Sutton. Franklin Pangborn never had a better screen name than J. Pinkerton Snoopington, the bank examiner. And we can't forget the inebriated film director played by Jack Norton, A Pismo Clam. The Bank Dick is the only film I know where you can read the credits, laugh uproariously before the film starts and then eagerly anticipate more.

As good as his films at Paramount were, Fields never had the creative control that he did that Universal gave him for The Bank Dick. It's Fields's height as a performer and not to be missed.

And don't forget, you pronounce his last name SOO SAY.
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RadarTroop15 January 2001
"The Bank Dick" easily makes my top-ten funniest movies of all time list. If you're curious about Fields and want a good introduction to his brand of humor, I suggest this, then "My Little Chickadee". For my tastes, "The Bank Dick" is the superior of the two.
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timeless comedy classic
movieman_kev12 June 2005
This comedy classic revolves around the misadventures of Egbert Souse, "accent grave over the e" (W.C. Fields) a drunkard who hates his family and the feeling is mutual. As he goes about his day he stumbles into becoming a film director, bank guard, and local hero. Fields is at his best in this film. And the humor is priceless as well as timeless. Whenever he sees the bartender (Shemp Howard of Three Stooges fame), he stops whatever he's doing and follows him to the bar. Hilarious. This movie can be found in the W.C. Fields comedy collection, along with, "My Little Chickadee", "You can't Cheat an Honest Man", "It's a Gift", "International House", and "W.C. Fields:Behind the Laughter"

My Grade: A+
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"Have You Seen Michael Finn?"
skallisjr25 April 2005
W. C. Fields' humor seems "modern" because it's timeless. In The Bank Dick, he plays a person who stumbles into success without trying, but who takes advantage of the situation as he goes along.

One cannot make too much sense of a W. C. Fields written story. At one point, he suggests investing in a "beef steak mine," and this apparently can be done in the world of the film. Once the film starts going, it gathers a momentum of its own, and follows its own "making it up as it goes" logic.

As with a lot of Fields' best work, the asides in the film are among the best dialogue. A really enjoyable view.
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Good, But Never As Good As I Remember It
ccthemovieman-124 October 2006
Here's another W.C. Fields farce, one of his better-known films. It features Fields' classic double-takes, strange lines, strange names, a lot of sight gags and a chase scene at the end.

I never found this film as good as its reputation, even though I own it and have watched it three or four times. It's one of those movies I keep remembering as something really good until I watch it again! I enjoyed watching Grady Sutton and Una Merkel more than Fields, although Una doesn't look as cute as she normally did. Shemp Howard of Three Stooges is also in the cast.

It's dated, of course, which sometimes translates poorly in the field of comedy but there are still enough funny things in here to make it worthwhile seeing. The only scene that really dragged was the Franklin Pangborn sickness scene, which went on way too long.

The last 10 minutes is a lot of fun, reminiscent of a silent comedy finish with a wild car chase. Maybe that's what draws me back every five years or so.
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Forsaking the "Artistic" for some Good Old Fashioned Laughs, only to find That You Have Done Both!
John T. Ryan20 September 2007
We can well remember hearing a Film Critic doing an on TV review of HELLO DOLLY(1969). As this was about 40 damn years ago, I'm not sure just who the reviewer was, nor what was the program. It was long before this "Golden Age of Film Criticism" that we are now living through, but, no matter. It what this "learned" Movie Reviewer had said in passing that was important to this write-up.

What he said went something like that the Leads, Star Barbara Streisand(Dolly Levi) and Walter Matthau(Horace Vandergelder) "....were sort of like one of those old May West/W.C. Fields comedies, with both doing their part to impersonate the old Stars on the Modern Screen!" (Well, I didn't hire him, Schultz!)

A lot of folks hold that Mr. Fields had his true Golden Age during his association with Adolph Zukor, Jesse Lasky & Paramount Pictures. A great argument can be made for the Starring Vehicles of Fields, but for his guest starring during that time. The quality of story, writing, Direction(using some of Fields' favourites) and the sheer magnitude of sets and intricacy of their detailed construction gave a real true to life look to these Paramount gems (and to a picture, they were).

A move from Paramount to Universal Studios would certainly be considered a come down in any quarters. For Paramount was, along with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, RKO Radio, Warner Brothers and 20th Century-FOX, called the big 5 of Hollywood, Universal was not so prestigiously endowed, though it didn't qualify as "Poverty Row", either.

To my way of thinking, it was the four MACK SENNET Productions/PARAMOUNT Release of the 2 reelers that put W.C. Fields on the right track. The big four being: THE DENTIST (1932) THE FATAL GLASS OF BEER,THE PHARMASCIST and THE BARBER SHOP(all 1933). In these he seemed to have the proper genesis of the crotchety guy who was also a victim of his environment. The trends were continued at those previously mentioned features, which also sometimes gave him a heart of gold underneath it all(see THE OLD FASHIONED WAY).

But once at Universal, Bill (as his friends called him)had a free hand to make the feature pictures that he wanted, in the manner that he wanted. All this added to his financial arrangement with Universal. In essence, he was taking his best ideas as developed in the 4 Sennett Shorts and bring them to full fruition in his various Features, though none was by any means a "remake".

And let's not forget during this period he was as well known as a Star of his own W.C. Fields Radio Show.* Oh yeah, about that 'Big Shot' movie critic of those 4 decades ago, we can agree to the similarities in Miss Streisand's and Mr. Matthau's characterizations resembling May West & W.C. Fields, though it was surely a case of purposeful impersonation, not any coincidental similarity. And by the way, Mr. Hot Shot Movie Critic, the only film to co-star or even feature both Miss West and Mr. Fields was Universal's MY LITTLE CHICKADEE(1940)! It surely did leave a lasting impression. Got it, Schultz!

NOTE: * The Radio waves were his other domain as listeners were treated the very distinctive & melodious W.C. Fields verbal humor. His on going "feud" with Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy kept things interesting for years and led to YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN(Universal 1939)in which they co-starred. A lesser known gag involved Mr. Fields' repeatedly speaking of his nephew, "Chester", which went on for several weeks' shows. Then his sponsor. Old Gold Cigarettes finally got it! C'mon, Schultz, concentrate; his 'nephew', Chester Fields? Get it, Chesterfields!
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This film shows us the unseen face of alcoholism: the humor!
zetes9 August 2000
I think that W.C. Fields' caricature is recognizable by many people, but I think almost no one is familiar with him from his actual movies. More likely, people are just familiar with him from Looney Toons and such. But the actual comedian W.C. Fields was an absolutely hilarious guy. He fits in with other classic comedians like Keaton and Chaplin and Lloyd and even the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges in that he had an established persona which appeared in his films. What is really unique about him is his perfection in comedic acting, both physical, like the comedy you would see in the silents, and in delivering dialogue. His timing is so good in The Bank Dick. The dialogue has to be some of the best comedic dialogue ever written.

To boot, the other players in the film are just as funny. His family members are just great, especially his youngest daughter, who constantly beats on him with various objects. And when you see the film, which you definitely should, notice that Shemp Howard of the Three Stooges plays the bartender whom Fields (his name is Eggbert Souse (pronounced Soosay!)) follows around back to the bar whenever their paths happen to cross. The Bank Dick is certainly one of the funniest comedies ever made. 10/10
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I like my children parboiled as well.
enmussak15 December 2002
Fields is amazing. For anyone who loves watching men lose, you'll love fields. For the same reason I love Al Bundy, Larry David, and George Costanza. His hatred of children and love for the bottle are legendary. Everyone should experience Fields, but keep in mind that he is either drunk or playing drunk on screen. It's a subtle drunk, but it makes it funnier. Good flick.
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Wild comedy from W.C.
mark.waltz21 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Mass hysteria ensues when ne'er-do-well husband and father Egbert Souse' (W.C. Fields) is given a job as a security guard at a bank after supposedly catching a bank robber. Abused by his wife (Cora Witherspoon), younger daughter (Evelyn Del Rio) and nasty mother-in-law (Jessie Ralph), Fields spends most of his free time (which is a lot) at Shemp Howard's bar, "The Black Pussycat" than he does looking for a job or doing chores for his ungrateful family. In fact, only his lovely older daughter (Una Merkel) seems to genuinely love him. Engaged to bank clerk Grady Sutton, Merkel has no idea that thanks to a bogus stock tip, Sutton is guilty of embezzlement with daddy Field's help. Enter J. Pinkerton Snoopington (Franklin Pangborn), the officious bank examiner whom Fields must stall from examining the bank books for four days until Sutton gets his bonus check. Pangborn, usually typecast as a nervous nancy, greatly underplays his character, allowing Fields to get him rip-roaringly drunk and ending up with a hangover to end all hangovers. By making his character quietly dignified without hysterica, Pangborn becomes the perfect "straight man" (!) surrounding the ensemble of wackos which populate this small California town.

Fields is hysterically excellent as the harried "everyman", far from perfect, yet able to steal every moment on screen with his endless treasure trove of tricks. Whether it be misplacing his hat (in eye view of the audience, yet not to Egbert) or accidentally donning a featured pen, Fields surrounds himself with some hysterically named characters. My personal favorite: A. Pismo Clam! Some might find the lack of likable female characters (with the exception of Merkel) to be in bad taste, but it suits the plot. The result is a hodge-podge of comedy that ranks with the best farces of all time. This certainly is worth a nose full of nickles!
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A Man for all Seasons
dougdoepke3 October 2010
What a great chance to thrill to the adventures of a true American hero, Egbert Souse ("Soo- say", accent gravamen over the "e", please). Glory in Egbert's acrobatic family as they talk and stuff their mouths at the same time, while seated around a loving breakfast table. Catch little Elsie Mae's affectionate tribute to her dad, a billiard ball at his head, while he returns her love with a raised flowerpot. See him rescue a movie set from the clutches of a crazed downtown Lompoc ("Lom-pock", please). But most of all, glory in Egbert's fearless capture of an inert bank bandit, catapulting our hero up the ladder of success, where among other feats, he alertly disarms a maddened 11-year old cowboy. With our Egbert, the thrills just keep coming.

But our hero is nothing if not versatile. Follow his genius for threading through the mysterious world of high finance. Learn from his expert use of liquid treats in greasing the wheels of finance, where he greases and greases and greases. Note how quickly he turns facts and figures into the sheer poetry of "beer beneath an arboreal dell". And finally, thrill to his NASCAR skills in maneuvering a 1930's flivver to the background demands of a Hollywood projection screen. Truly, a man for all seasons.

But more importantly, one heckuva funny movie.
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W.C. Fields- an unlikely hero
Petri Pelkonen2 February 2009
W.C. Fields plays a man who has a nagging wife and children who show him no respect.His name is Egbert Sousé, who must repeatedly remind people to pronounce his name with the accent over the e.People keep calling him Souse, which is a slang word for drunkard.Well our hero likes to drink, and smoke too.Then things start to happen to Mr. Sousé.First he is recruited to replace a drunken film director and then he happens to capture a bank robber.He's hired by the Lompoc Bank as a guard.There his daughter's fiancée, Og Oggilby works as a teller.Sousé persuades Og to embezzle $ 500 to buy phony stock.The real trouble starts when the bank examiner shows up.Can Sousé fix the problem? Edward F. Cline is the director of The Bank Dick (1940).It's written by Fields himself.Fields makes this character most amusing.The rest of the Sousé family is played by Cora Witherspoon (Agatha), Una Merkel (Myrtle) and Evelyn Del Rio (Elsie Mae Adele Brunch).Jessie Ralph plays the mother-in-law Mrs. Hermisillo Brunch.Grady Sutton is Og.Franklin Pangborn is the bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington.Shemp Howard, one of the Three Stooges plays the bartender Joe Guelpe.This movie holds plenty of great gags inside.One funny one is where Fields entertains a group of kids by taking a drag from a cigarette, places it in his ear and exhales multiple puffs of smoke making it seem like he's using his ear to inhale the smoke.Or getting hit in the head multiple times by his young daughter is hilarious each time.The chaotic car chase is really something.What a funny guy that W.C. Fields!
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MartinHafer14 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Apart from IT'S A GIFT, this is among W. C. Fields' greatest films--with tons of laughs. He plays Egbert Sousé (pronounced 'soo-zay', not 'souse'--a great play on words) and the film is filled with more Fields bizarre names than usual. My favorite is the bank examiner, 'J. Pinkerton Snoopington' but 'Filthy McNasty' and 'Og Oggilby' are also dandy! Plus the script credit which goes to 'Mahatma Kane Jeeves' (a pseudonym for Fields himself)). But there is far more to the film than just silly names. Like almost all of Fields' films, it's about a likable small-time blow-hard who somehow makes it big by the end of the film. In this film, Fields accidentally foils a bank robbery and is rewarded with a job working in the bank. Later, he once again saves the day and is the town hero. In between he manages to make a mess of things, but in Fields fashion, it all manages to work itself out as well.

What helps this film is that in addition to an excellent Fields performance is some excellent support from the likes of Grady Sutton, Shemp Howard, Franklin Pangborn and Una Merkel and they're all in top form. Overall, the film shows that you can take a very simple plot and just let Fields act--that's really all you need for an excellent comedy. The only negative is the rear projection used during the police chase--it was very obviously fake--too fake to be funny.
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Good '40's slapstick? Yes, it's really possible!
Boba_Fett113815 October 2008
Slapstick movies were most popular in the '20's and '30's, after that the genre more started to change and the humor became more different and perhaps less physical. The story became more and more relevant but none of this applies really to "The Bank Dick".

"The Bank Dick" is a completely old fashioned comedy, done in the same style as for instance a Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy movie. The movie features lots of great slapstick moments and a main character that is totally carrying the movie to some great heights. "The Bank Dick" features some truly hilarious moments, making this a real great and effective genre movie to watch.

W.C. Fields was a great genre actor, who isn't that well known any more now days, which probably also has to do with the fact that he hasn't starred in that many movies throughout his career, especially not when comparing him to many other genre leads from the same time period. "The Bank Dick" was one of his last movies, which most likely also had to do with the fact that the '40's were coming and the genre- and the movie world in general began changing rapidly. What I like about him is that he's really acting. For instance a Charlie Chaplin or a Buster Keaton is always more relying on the movie its psychical aspects. W.C. Fields paid way more attention to the delivery of lines and how he should act, move and look in a scene. You can tell that everything got planned out but it still feels all very natural when you see Fields acting out the movie its comical and especially slapstick-style moments.

I love that this movie is deliberately old fashioned. It hasn't got a story you have to think about too much and the movie overall has a childish naivety over it, mostly due to the way W.C. Fields is portraying his character. It provides the movie with plenty of delicious comical situations.

What also makes this movie fun are its other characters. The movie just isn't an one man show from W.C. Fields but the movie also really gives all of the other characters within the movie plenty of opportunity to shine and give them some comical moments to handle as well. The movie is filled with some amusing characters, which also helps to keep the movie going at all times. This isn't just a 'one-joke' movie that relies purely on one comical situation or absurd premise but it's a movie that is always going from the one place to the other, introducing the one character after the other.

Perhaps this movie is one of the great last true slapstick movies from a bygone era.

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