Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saturday night at the movies

I'm a fan of W.C.Fields, though his feature often disappoint: boring longeurs of studio set-pieces punctuated by flashes of lunatic genius. If you check out the plots and the character names of his films on the Internet Movie Database you'll get an idea of just how good the films might have been, given their chance.

Pool Sharks (1915) is his first film and it could, frankly, be anybody in that part. Am I the only one to think he looks like Steve Martin here?

Fields was a professional juggler, and often brought tricks of the trade onto the screen, whether it was a hat that seemed to have a life of its own or getting a fountain involved in a ping-pong match. A lot of his physical comedy was informed by a deft sense of space and timing (keep an eye out for some of his double-takes in the last fillum here). He here is actually being a juggler. You'll notice the name of the act...

"And tomorrow East Lynne!"

And here he is in the glorious short "The Dentist." It's most famous for the scene with the patients (we usually get to see a bowdlerised version), but the domestic scenes have a magic of their own.

WC Fields -TheDentist

"Get those teeth out of there, too, they're right in my line."

"Can I use gas?"
"Gas or electric light, I'd get nervous of you fooling around with me in the dark."


Gadjo Dilo said...

I confess I 've never seen a W. C. Fields film, even though I love physical comedy - my, wasn't he dextrous, superb comedy juggling.

Jimmy Bastard said...

W.C.Fields still makes me laugh to this day. He knew how to deliver a line, and his dry wit was perfect. Which is more than can be said for that awfie scruffy cockney shite Russell Brand.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Gadjo: "The Bank Dick" and "Never Give A Sucer An Even Break" are my favourites, primarily for the flights of fancy involved.

Jimmy: exactly so, sir!

martpol said...

Oh dear. I know so little about old comedy that I thought W C Fields was a cricketer. Actually, I suppose that also shows I know very little about cricket.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Oh Martin!