W.C. Fields and M.D.

I've been annoying people regularly through more than four decades with my raves and enthusiastic recitations of all things W.C. Fields.
W.C. FieldsW.C. Fields image by twm1340 via FlickrNew York's Film Forum has come to the rescue, reinforcing the lectures. Those kindly info ferrets have uncovered several quotations from revered cinema historians on the topic of, as Fields' called himself, "The Great Man."

"The greatest comic the movies have given us." – David Thomson

"The toughest and most warmly human of all screen comedians." – James Agee

"Quite probably the funniest single individual America has ever produced." – William K. Everson

So there.

Twenty-four W.C. Fields features and his six short subjects are scheduled at the theatre during a 12-day retrospective of the comedian's motion picture glories made between 1915 and 1941. Several of the productions remain wrongly, elusively unavailable to me otherwise.

It grieves this big-eyed lad that I won't be able to visit Manhattan for the festival due to prior commitments and my fears of flying and street corner accordionists with de rigueur rabid monkeys.

To compensate, I've decided to recreate the series at my home, time permitting, plus the spotty availability of prints is an issue causing me to substitute W.C. Fritos commercials into the programs instead..

I'm excited. I'm already calling my wife "Miss Plupp" and she's to address me as "Eustace McGargle." If she forgets, I'll still answer to "Mahatma Kane Jeeves," "Otis Criblecoblis," and "Larsen E. Whipsnade."

Speaking of gargle, the series kicks-off with "The Dentist" (1932), one of several Fields two-reelers he wrote and starred in for producer Max Sennett and Paramount Pictures. This 21-minute concoction was quite outrageous in its day and remains a surprising spectacle that was widely censored for some questionable imagery in the ol' dental chair.

I'm ready to start. Join me. Grab your popcorn and spit sink and swallow "The Dentist."

W.C. Fields in "The Dentist" (1932) via YouTube


Unknown said...

Hello Mike!

I am glad to see that you are still a fan of America's Greatest Comedian, W.C. Fields. I will be attending the Film Forum program on April 29th and 30th to introduce the films.

I wish you were able to attend, but I know you will be there in spirit.

Your friend,

Ted Wioncek, Jr., President
W.C. Fields Fan Club

Mike Durrett said...

Hi, Ted, nice to hear from you. I was thinking about you when I wrote the above piece. Yep, three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and my devotion to Mr. Fields.

I am so jealous (and happy) you will be at the festival. Knowing you're there makes my absence a larger personal disappoinment. There's little in life more satisfying than viewing W.C. with appreciative companions.

Golly, you're introducing THE BANK DICK and NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK. I saw these for the first time on a double bill New Year's Eve, 1969. The most boisterously funny double feature of my life! Wow, what a night.

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