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
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 ›
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.
I disagree that these shorts represent W.C. at his peak. If you want his best films, buy "It's a Gift" and "The Bank Dick", and any of his films of the 30's you can find. But for the fan, this DVD is a delight.
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.