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W.C. Fields: 6 Short Films (Full Screen)

W.C. Fields , Marjorie Kane , Arthur Ripley , Clyde Bruckman    Unrated   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 127.64
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Product Description


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

Product Description

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.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining DVD Dec 26 2003
Of course growing up I knew who W.C. Fields was, but, I have to admit, he was not one of my favorites. When I was younger I loved watching Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, and Harold Lloyd, but W.C. Fields was an acquired taste. I had seen him in movies such as "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man", "The Bank Dick" (often thought of as his best), and "My Little Chickadee" (with Mae West). But I think I was too young too appreicate his style of humor. I should point out I was only 4 or 5 when I was watching these comedians, so a lot of the humor was "too much" for me. The same way Groucho making jokes about wanting to marry women for their money went over my head. But now that 15 or 16 years have past I've come to think more fondly about Fields.
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.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for Children June 20 2004
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. Perhaps the first reviewer should move out of his mother's basement, get a job and spend a few years in the real world and view Mr. Fields work again. Then I may be interseted in his opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great compilation May 29 2004
By Ted
This release by the Criterion contains 5 short films made by W.C. fields between 1930 and 1933 It also contains a short film made in 1915.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars W. C. Done Right Nov. 12 2003
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. I was not disappointed. While the sound is hardly hi-fi, everything is quite audible compared to other copies of these same shorts being sold.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars God broke the mold after he made W.C. Fields. May 24 2001
Fields' career spanned the Golden Age of silent films and went into the "talkie era". Like Chaplin's "Little Tramp", Fields was the original "Grumpy Old Man", a sympathetic combination of outrageously funny behavior tempered by the viewer's envious wish to be able to act like Fields in similar situations. He was a truly unique character who could take the common and ordinary and turn it on its head, pulling and twisting humor from seemingly thin air, and change one's perceptions of the game of golf, a visit to the dentist, or a refreshing glass of beer. Don't miss this opportunity to visit Fields; there will never be another like him.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 4 Out Of 6 Ain't Bad! May 8 2001
This DVD contains all of Field's short films. Four were produced for Mack Sennett in 1932-3, late in Sennett's career. Sennett falsely claimed to have "discovered" Fields. No matter; the Sennett shorts are all wonderful and are all 5-star films. My favorites are the hilariously sadistic and borderline lewd film "The Dentist" and "The Fatal Glass of Beer", a surrealistic and bizarre parody of bad melodramas. "The Pharmacist" and "The Barbershop" also have a lot of fine moments.
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.
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