W.C. Fields: 6 Short Films (Full Screen)
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W. C. Fields' prolific career placed him at the forefront of slapstick comedy. Gathered here are six gems that feature the comic genius at his peak: The Golf Specialist, Pool Sharks (silent), The Pharmacist, The Fatal Glass of Beer, The Barber Shop, and, of course, the notorious The Dentist. This unique collection will delight new generations of viewers with Fields' hilariously sardonic routines.
Ten years elapsed between W.C. Fields's debut in the 1915 short "The Pool Sharks" and his role in D.W. Griffith's Sally of the Sawdust, but it didn't take long for Fields to become one of the all-time great screen comedians. This essential collection--the silent "The Pool Sharks" plus the five "two-reeler" sound shorts that established Fields's acerbic style--provides a comprehensive document of the comedian's work in progress. "The Pool Sharks" develops a routine that Fields created in vaudeville and later perfected on film, with stop-motion animation used here to realize the comedian's wacky luck at billiards. It's a clever appetizer, but Fields was a verbal comic, so the two-reelers are the full-course meal.
Like the Marx brothers' The Cocoanuts a year earlier, 1930's "The Golf Specialist" mines humor from high jinks in sunny Florida, where Fields is nearly upstaged by a stone-faced golf caddy. The classic "The Dentist," despite the later addition of strident musical cues, is presented in its entirety, including an oft-censored bit in which Fields tugs a molar from a woman who's wrapped around him in a highly suggestive position. "The Pharmacist" and "The Barbershop" are variations on the theme, allowing Fields to toss off bons mots and scathing sarcasm, but it's the anomalous "The Fatal Glass of Beer"--a hilarious send-up of Yukon gold-rush adventures--that proves an unlikely highlight. It's typically sour-pussed in its agenda, with a running gag (involving the line "It ain't a fit night out for man nor beast") that just grows funnier with each repetition. Fields's comedy wasn't fully developed here--he became masterful in later features--but 6 Short Films is crucial in demonstrating his rapid refinement of the vintage Fields persona. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
In the film "Pool Sharks" 1915, Fields is a pool player and does tricks that defy the laws of physics.
The film is credited as W.C. Fields' first film though he was in a film before this one. This film has the earliest example of stop-motion animation I have ever seen.
The film, "The Golf specialist" 1930 is a slapstick comedy where Fields stars as an inept golf player with an equally inept caddy.
In "The Dentist" 1932 Fields is an incompetent dentist
In "The Fatal Glass of Beer" 1933 Fields is a man in the Yukon whose son has recently come home after a stay in prison
In "The Pharmacist" 1933 Fields is a pharmasict whose wife and daughters give him a hard time
In "The Barber Shop" 1933 Fields is a clumsy barber thant manages to injure his customers badly.
Each of these films were prevously released on videotape on a 2 casette set.
The DVD has no added special features though.
This DVD set contain 6 shorts, five of which were made by Mack Sennett. I will review each short individually.
"THE POOL SHARKS" (1915) - The oldest of the shorts in the collection is actually Fields first! The piece runs 11 minutes so as you can guess the piece is built around two or three gags. Think in terms of the shorts Chaplin or Keaton made. They are fun to watch because of how silly they are but, that's the problem. They are so silly, they make absolutely no sense. These one-reelers just offer you a quick sample of the comedians talents. "The Pool Sharks" is fun to watch, but, the other shorts on here make this one look pale. Also, Fields' humor is more suited for sound. ** 1\2 out of *****
"THE GOLF SPECIALIST" (1930) - Perhaps Fields' most popular short, is actually the only one in the collection I've seen before. Now my opinion of this short is not the majority opinion. As I explained with "The Pool Sharks", these shorts were just excuses to showcase the talent involved, whoever it may be.Read more ›
There are two other shorts which are clunkers as films, but are valuable as documentation of the routines Fields did for "The Ziegfeld Follies." "The Pool Shark" is a poorly filmed silent version (1916) of Fields' pool routine. "The Golf Specialist" is a very early and very primitive sound film.
Most recent customer reviews
W.C. Fields is one of our greatest comedians and a National Treasure. His humor was meant to be enjoyed by intelligent, sophisticated adults, not snot-nosed dilletantes. Read morePublished on June 20 2004
Maybe the humor was left out during the restoration process, but it's more likely that there was no humor to begin with. Read morePublished on June 15 2004 by Keith Whitener
I had seen all these shorts when I bought this DVD, but I was hoping that I would actually be able to hear all the hilarious asides spoken by the Great Man. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2003 by Dr. Robert N. Goldberg
Please be aware that this DVD has the censored version of The Dentist with the cheezy music. This is what happens when people issue materal that they no nothing about.Published on Oct. 2 2000 by Ken Doyle
W. C. Fields was one of the first, great comedians of the talkies. So much of his humor comes from his delivery that it's almost hard to imagine him as a silent comedian. Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2000 by Edward Torpy