I was delighted to find this today on my Recommended list, as I had not heard anything about it. I was so excited when volume 1 was announced, primarily because there hadn't been a decent dvd copy of "It's a Gift", but also because I was hoping beyond hope that there would some day be a volume 2 that included TMOTFTrapeze, and The Old Fashioned Way. Trapeze, especially, is on my must see list, and almost instantly alienates me from the uninitiated of my generation. It usually takes some cajoling, but when I finally get friends to take time out to drink in a Field's picture, they usually get turned in the right direction permanently.
The scene where Fields trips, crashes through the door and down the cellar stairs, shoots himself in the posterior, pulls from under him a piece of wood with a ridiculously long nail in it, and utters "Drat", is usually enough to get the job done for good. Just thinking about it, I am having a difficult time restraining my laughter as I type.
The movie was never one of his most popular, but it is riddled with small and incredibly funny gags. His constant "brushing his teeth", the dialog with his shrew of a wife (hideously played by Kathleen Howard, in a role that she more or less reprised a few times with Fields) regarding a late night wrong number, Fields's comment on hearing burglars singing in his cellar ("Oh, what rotten voices"), his subsequent joining in with the singing burglars (one of them played by a very young Walter Brennan), and his following appearance in court are incredibly well crafted. I think that this flick may be the best example of the Fields wit, but you have to pay close attention to the movie to really pick up on it. His expressions and under-the-breath comments are truly one-of-a-kind, and turn him into more than just a cliche.
"The Old Fashioned Way" is another great example of a Fields vehicle that never quite got the attention it deserved. Probably most famous for a kick that the Great Man delivers to Baby LeRoy, it is also filled with great little scenes that show off W.C.'s versatility. The play, his juggling, his throw away lines all make this a very entertaining entry. Keep an eye open for a truly great supporting role by Jan Duggan as "Cleopatra Pepperday".
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break and You're Telling Me are both amusing,
but were never at the very top of my Fields list (although the scene in YTM where he shoots the tires on the police car is pretty darned funny).
Poppy is one that, I have a hard time believing myself, I've never seen. I've read some pretty good things about it, so I'm looking forward to the viewing.
All in all, I am much, much happier this afternoon than I was this morning, thanks to finding this announcement!