The W.C. Fields Comedy Collection: Volume 1 (The Bank Dick/My Little Chickadee/You Can't Cheat an Honest Man/It's a Gift/International House)
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W.C. Fields is an American original, the curmudgeonly master of wit and good, mean fun. In this collection of madcap classics, the famously top-hatted Fields unleashes his unique comic zing, proving himself the king of the one-liner. This special DVD collection includes The Bank Dick, My Little Chickadee, You Can't Cheat an Honest Man, It's a Gift and International House. The W.C. Fields Comedy Collection is Fields at his finest, and a must-have for anyone who loves to laugh!
For anyone who loves classic comedy, the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection is absolutely essential. Film for film, this may be the best DVD showcase ever devoted to a single comedian, including all five of Fields's acknowledged classics in a sturdy, beautifully designed library-quality slipcase. One could easily lament the relative lack of bonus features (it would have been nice to have some vintage Fields radio shows and newsreel footage), but the inclusion of A&E's 1994 Biography documentary W.C. Fields: Behind the Laughter is sufficiently informative about Fields's life, career, irascible personality, and tragic alcoholism. That's all that's really needed when the films themselves are so timelessly entertaining, and they're all remarkably pristine in sound and image quality. The best way to appreciate Fields's evolving screen persona is to view these films in chronological order: In International House (1933), Fields was merely one of many Paramount stars of screen and radio (including Rudy Vallee, Burns & Allen, Bela Lugosi, Sterling Holloway, and manic bandleader Cab Calloway), but he handily steals the show, invading a Shanghai hotel in his airplane/helicopter and delivering the classic line (to Franklin Pangborn), "Don't let the posy fool ya!" It's one of Paramount's best all-star revues.
It's a Gift (1934) is a remake of Fields's 1926 silent It's the Old Army Game, and was the first sound feature devoted to Fields's inimitable talent. As beleaguered husband and would-be orange farmer, Fields revives vintage routines from Vaudeville and Broadway, and his first encounter with Baby LeRoy is comedy gold. You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939) features Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and Fields's classic, still-hilarious ping-pong routine, while 1940's My Little Chickadee matches Fields (as "Guthbert J. Twillie") with Mae West, whose unforgettable on-screen banter with Fields shows no sign of their notorious off-screen animosity. In his raucous masterpiece The Bank Dick (also 1940), Fields is "Egbert Souse," lowly bank guard, unlikely hero, and manic driver in perhaps the greatest slapstick car-chase scene ever filmed. Despite the regrettable absence of Fields's final starring feature Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, this classy five-disc set is a veritable cornucopia of comedy, offering ample proof of Fields's comic genius through classic one-liners, physical routines, memorable costars, and perfect bits of business that never grow old. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
The set includes 5 movies ranging from mediocre to great, "Night After Night" (1932)- in my opinion is the worst film of the bunch, "I'm No Angel" (1933) - is the funniest, "Goin' to Town" (1935) - is the most enjoyable, ""Go West, Young Man" (1936) - is mediocre West and "My Little Chickadee" (1940) - pairs West with the legendary W.C Fields.
"Night After Night" ** 1/2. This almost forgotten little film is a curiosity item because it is Mae West's screen debut. The film stars George Raft, who plays Joe, a former boxer and owner of a speakeasy who is interested in romancing an attractive and mysterious socialite, Miss Jerry Healy (Constance Cummings). Whatever one thinks of the film (I am not too enamoured with it as I find it a bit tedious to get through) there is no denying once West's Maudie Triplett enters the scene, she steals the show and despite her brief appearance here, delivers some of her classic dialogues ("Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.") The scene in the hotel bedroom with West and Alison Skipworth dealing with a hangover and an innocent misunderstanding is a hoot. This film may have been a star vehicle for the other actors but Mae West managed to steal the spotlight off them and several decades later, this film is remembered mostly for her presence.
"I'm No Angel" ****. This film is one of West's best features and it contains some of her wittiest dialogue. West plays Tira, a circus performer who hits the big time as a lion tamer.Read more ›
By every account available, Fields and West absolutely loathed each other. After Field's death West went to considerable effort to belittle both Fields and his contribution to this film, insisting that she herself wrote the story and the script and Fields was responsible for his personal material only. Ironically, her claims re this are hardly flattering to her talent, for the great weakness of CHICKADEE is the actual story itself, which is remarkable for its lack of imagination: Flower Belle becomes mixed up with an outlaw and is run out of town--and told she can't return until she can prove she is respectably married. The opportunity to do precisely that arrives in the form Cuthbert J. Twillie, an inept con-man who becomes her dupe.
Although uninspired, the plot does have the benefit of allowing both West and Fields to do their own thing both separately and occasionally together--and when it works, it goes off with a bang. Their meeting on the train, their wedding night, and West's unlikely stint as a schoolmarm (teaching the young about figures, of course) are all hilarious bits, and Margaret Hamilton gets in some good moments in the supporting cast. The film only sinks whenever it returns to the storyline of West and her bandit lover--so all in all, although not the best, it is well worth a watch, particularly for Fields and West fans. Recommended, but don't expect too much.
Most recent customer reviews
I've got both volumes and the movies are some of the funniest I've seen. Get both volumes and see one of the greatest comedians.Published on May 6 2013 by Wayne J. Stirling
I consider WC Fields one of the funniest men that ever performed on the 'silver screen'. His comedy plays on the foibles of human nature without resorting to vulgarity, something... Read morePublished on Feb. 17 2009 by O.C. Goveia