W.C. Fields as 'The Pharmacist'

W.C. Fields: 6 Short Films (The Criterion Collection) Spine #79)
I'm amusing my way through the robust W.C. Fields festival at the Film Forum in New York, only I'm following along here at the love nest. We're equipped with a state-of-the-art lap cat and surround purr.

"The Pharmacist" is one of the short subjects Fields wrote and starred in for comedy legend Max Sennett. It also happens to be the first 16mm sound film I purchased for my collection during senior year of high school. In those ancient times before home video, the only way I could see obscure W.C.'s was to buy them from a magical underground of fans and/or vendors. I was thrilled to get the used print. I paid $16, concurrently pricey and a bargain.

I wish I had also received the attractive door prize the pharmacist bestows on each customer.

W.C. Fields: "The Pharmacist" (1933) via Internet Archive


How to Be in the Movies Theatre

We visited a theatre north of Atlanta. It was our first trek to the venue, so I pre-purchased  tickets online to be assured admittance. There were special instructions.

Step 1: Print this page containing your Print at Home Ticket and bring it to the theater.

Pssst... Donna printed our tickets at her office, not at home. We may have committed some kind of motion picture piracy. I'm in seclusion, hiding from the movie police. I'm also not silencing my cell phone or noting the exits.

Step 2: Skip the box office! Go directly to the ticket podium to have your Print at Home Ticket scanned.

We were happy to do so. It beat standing in line behind "Scream 4"-fumed gangly twits.

We entered the lobby in procession to the podium. Indeed, that podium, famous and revered from the above literature quotation.

"Tickets, please," said the podium potentate, engaging conversation.

"We have Print at Home Tickets," I said loudly, so all within the mile would be alerted. "We're royalty. We know people with ponies."

"Very good, sir."

"Ever hear of Buckingham Palace?" I queried.


"If we had a carport, it would look like that."

"Auditorium 9."

"Without the big ears, fang teeth, and cravats," I added to avoid confusions.


"Aren't you going to tell us to enjoy the show?"

The official handed over our valuable documents, adding, "The mandate is expressed specifically on your newly raggedy torn-in-half Print at Home Ticket remnants."

"You didn't say, "My lord."

"Good lord!"

"That's better and exactly."

Step 3: Enjoy the Show!

I am so glad they reminded us to do this! I am certain, however, it should not be a hard rule in order to attend that we enjoy the show. In fact, I do believe these exhibitor revolutionaries are overstepping their Constitutional boundaries. We were seeing "Atlas Shrugged" and we would loathe the show if we personally responsible individuals so chose, you controlling, government-loving flicker lackeys.

So there.

And we enjoyed the show.


Meet the Neighbors

Residing in a rural area, we expect to observe the occasional romantic rendezvous along the lane, but not next to our house! 

He's in love.


Going to Sleep During the W.C. Fields Film Festival

Checking in from the sofa with an update on my own private W.C. Fields retrospective. I'm mirroring the series currently underway in New York City at the Film Forum.

W.C. Fields Comedy Collection (The Bank Dick / My Little Chickadee / You Can't Cheat an Honest Man / It's a Gift / International House)W.C. Fields Comedy Collection, Vol. 2 (The Man on the Flying Trapeze / Never Give A Sucker An Even Break / You're Telling Me! / The Old Fashioned Way / Poppy)Alice in WonderlandDavid Copperfield (1935)

The weekend was solid, featuring three of my favorite Fields-created projects, "The Dentist" (1932), "It's a Gift" (1934), and "Man on the Flying Trapeze" (1935), all on one program and funnier than ever. His largely dramatic guest-star-for-hire gigs comprised another line-up with "David Copperfield" (1935) and "Alice in Wonderland" (1933). Fields surfaces in the classic literature roles of Micawber and Humpty-Dumpty.

He was a fine, nuanced character actor, and watching these movies again made me shake my head again, recalling a big cinematic loss. W.C. turned down the offered, eccentric part of The Great and Powerful Oz in MGM's 1939 "The Wizard of Oz." Frank Morgan is terrific, no argument, but Fields was born to play in the Emerald City.

The fest highlight for me so far?

I got to see what I call "The Insomnia Scene" from "It's a Gift" (video below). (Coincidentally, "Man on the Flying Trapeze" opens with somewhat of a continuation.) I hate to spoil the comedy, so I'll say only that our man in pajamas portrays Harold Bissonette in sleepy pursuit of some early morning shut-eye.

While the footage is priceless, I also love that the so-called plot of the farce stops to include this detour, encompassing 15% of the entire running time of the film!

W.C. Fields: "It's a Gift": Porch Sequence (1934) via YouTube
Also appearing: Baby LeRoy
Not appearing: Carl LaFong


Big Weekend

Easter egg hunt! 

I'm getting good at these explorations, hitting the mother lode almost immediately, 15-20 minutes tops. 

The Bunny colored the eggs my favorite, too! Eggshell White!

Good eats ahead.

And then things turned messy.

I've heard rabbits have trouble grasping "bring the water to a boil."


Easter Cartoon Carnival

Tom and Jerry in "Happy Go Ducky" (1958, Joseph Barbera & William Hanna) via YouTube

Super Chicken and Fred in "The Easter Bunny" (1967) via YouTube

Walt Disney's "Funny Little Bunnies" (1934, Wilfred Jackson) via YouTube



Follow Mike on Twitter
My Recent Confessions and Observations on Twitter

My wife misplaced her copy of THE DAY CHRIST DIED. I asked, "Want me to tell you how it ends?" I'm a helpmate.

Item from @TheWrap: "Donald Trump Declares His Net Worth at More Than $2.7 Billion." A bit better than me. My net worth is around 2.7 cats.

Breaking News: "Home Invasion Suspect Leaves T-Shirt With His Picture On It." He's still at large or extra-large.

Last night, hash brown potatoes at the Waffle House. Tonight, hash browns at the IHOP. I am a gourmet of the planet. It's dizzying to be me.

Charlie Sheen had his longest show yet in ATL Fox last nite. Hope they get the smell out of the curtains B4 I screen a movie there in 2 wks.

Charlie Sheen half-filled Atlanta's Fox Theatre last night. Tony Bennett has cancelled this evening. Guess he didn't like the warm-down act.

I've been dodging tornadoes today. Oddly, it's made me nostalgic for the Tasmanian Devil, flush toilets, and Miracle Whip.

@poptimal reports: "That was fast - NBC Cancels THE PAUL REISER SHOW." - Paul, not mad about you.

Why I Like TV's RED EYE: Where else could I go for thorough, unbiased, respectful, reasoned discussion of "baloney sweat"?

My wife found her missing copy of THE DAY CHRIST DIED, after three days. It miraculously reappeared. I'm just saying... THREE DAYS.

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What the Heck Was I Thinking?

Actual Messages I Wrote, Forgot, Then Found While Cleaning Out My Correspondence Folders


August 6 is the date I go get my shoelaces retipped. I'm sure you and Stan can do fine.


I'm curious, Ray, as to why you know about Lady Clairol Black #41.


Thanks, I enjoyed that and also wonder if Darth has a good Veggie Lasagna recipe.


$77.50 to do the Hot Potato with Henry the Octopus?

A bargain at any price!

But if Wags the Dog is opening, I dunno...


Oh, great. I'd better take the Tender Vittles out of my pockets.


Remembering Harold Lloyd, the Man on the Clock

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vol. 1The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vols. 1-3
I couldn't let this day clock out without mentioning Harold Lloyd, one of silent film comedy's big three, alongside Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Today would have been Lloyd's 118th birthday, and people still talk about this breathtaking stunt sequence from his 88-year-old film, "Safety Last." Movies just don't get much better or dangerous, with or without your newfangled computer assistance.

Harold Lloyd: "Safety Last" (1923) via YouTube


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


Big Weekend

Big weekend, watching movies. It was a theme. 

"Atlas Shrugged"                            "Woody Shrugged"

Hannah and Her SistersManhattan
Well, it felt like a theme. Woody's been missing since "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986), maybe "Manhattan" (1979).

Who is Woody Allen?


My Cinematic Alphabet

In recent travels across the Internet (losing my luggage), I noticed several writers sharing cinematic alphabets, wherein their go-to movies represent each of the 25 letters the coherent among us use to communicate -- and, sometimes, y.

The endeavor is nuttily nostalgic. During my school days, familiar objects were offered by teachers to illustrate the various vowels and consonants, like A is for apple, B is for book, and C is for cigarettes and, sometimes, Coors.

The compilation of my list of motion pictures was very difficult because I had so many worthy films to tweeze away. My sincerest apologies to "Pinocchio," "Bambi," "It's a Gift," "City Lights," "Bridge on the River Kwai," "Cinema Paradiso," "Jean de Florette," "Play It Again, Sam," "Bananas," "Singin' in the Rain," "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break," "Deputy Droopy," and many more. I may have my clones, Lester and Connie, prepare cinematic alphabets to include these neglected productions; however, knowing those two kin / mes, we'd be deluged by "Cops" episodes and "Dancing With the Stars (Who Aren't Big Enough to Not Have to Do This Humbling, Soul-Crushing TV Series)."

Yes, I've written about many of my titles before, but, at least, I am consistent, and heading on out to the lobby for popcorn and Dots. Save my seat.

I love a house with a lobby.

Annie Hall

A is for "Annie Hall" (1977)

W.C. Fields Comedy Collection (The Bank Dick / My Little Chickadee / You Can't Cheat an Honest Man / It's a Gift / International House)

B is for "The Bank Dick" (1940)

Citizen Kane (Two-Disc Special Edition)

C is for "Citizen Kane" (1941)

The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection (The Cocoanuts / Animal Crackers / Monkey Business / Horse Feathers / Duck Soup)

D is for "Duck Soup" (1933)

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Widescreen Edition)

E is for "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982)

A Face in the Crowd

F is for "A Face in the Crowd" (1957)
Geisha Boy [VHS]

G is for "The Geisha Boy" (1958)

How the West Was Won (Blu-ray Book) [Blu-ray]

H is for "How the West Was Won" in CINERAMA (1962)

It's a Wonderful Life [Blu-ray]

I is for "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)

Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition)

J is for "Jaws" (1975)

King Kong [Blu-ray Book]

K is for "King Kong" (1933)

The Ladies Man

L is for "The Ladies' Man" (1961)

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek

M is for "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944)

North by Northwest (50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Book)

N is for "North by Northwest" (1959)

Once Upon a Time in the West (Special Collector's Edition)

O is for "Once Upon a Time in the West" (1968)

Psycho (50th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]

P is for "Psycho" (1960)

The Quiet Man (Collector's Edition)

Q is for "The Quiet Man" (1952)

Rear Window (Collector's Edition)

R is for "Rear Window" (1954)

The Searchers [Blu-ray]
S is for "The Searchers" (1956)

To Catch a Thief (The Centennial Collection)

T is for "To Catch a Thief" (1955)

Up (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + BD Live) [Blu-ray]

U is for "Up" (2009)

Vertigo (Universal Legacy Series)

V is for "Vertigo" (1958)

The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]

W is for "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)

Xanadu - Magical Musical Edition (With Complete Soundtrack CD)

X is for "Xanadu" (1980)

Young Frankenstein [Blu-ray]

Y is for "Young Frankenstein" (1974)

The William Castle Film Collection (13 Frightened Girls / 13 Ghosts / Homicidal / Strait-Jacket / The Old Dark House / Mr. Sardonicus / The Tingler / Zotz!)

Z is for "Zotz!" (1962)

And, sometimes, "Why Worry?" (1923)
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