Plot: The work of W.C. Fields isn’t for everyone, but for those of us who do like his style, few can evoke such memorable characters. Fields is remembered most for this roles as harsh drunks and to be honest, that is what he did best. But even in his most crass characters, he is able to seem so likable and funny, you can’t help but laugh at his antics. He didn’t like children, but he has some fantastic pieces on record where he plays off of them, with hilarious results. Fields worked in films a lot and found much success, but he also performed in a number of short pieces, which were also humorous and well taken to. Some silent, some talkie, but all of them were funny and were much viewed. Fields was able to work in silent films well thanks to his physical comedy skills, but he could also entertain when films were given sound, because of his vocal gifts. This disc contains six of Fields’ classic short films in their complete forms, which is a real treat to own on a single disc. I have listed below the titles, a brief plot synopsis, and my thoughts on each short film.
1. The Golf Specialist- In this short film, Fields takes to the greens and tries his not so steady hand at the game of golf. As he tries to teach a beautiful young woman how to play the game, he ends up in all sorts of hijinks. It seems his hat, his clubs, and his caddy all seem to have it in for him at times. I like this one a lot and since it runs a scant twenty-one minutes, it has no problems holding on the viewer’s attention. The laughs are sure and steady in this short film and in truth, this one alone warrants the asking price of this disc.
2. Pool Sharks- Here, Fields displays his keen knack for billiards and once again, ends up in some hilarious situations. As if his massive mustache isn’t enough, this short is filled with funny slapstick style humor. This is Field’s first venture into film and since it is a silent short, the comedy is all visual, including some rather unique tricks with the pool balls. I am very pleased to have this piece on DVD in such fine form, it is a real treat for fans of Fields.
3. The Pharmacist- In this short, Fields plays a man that loves to be at work, but not because of his job. He just doesn’t want to be at home with his two daughters, who either tie up the telephone or want to do unusual things to the family bird. Adding to his woes are the federal agents battling outside his shop, whom he is worried will discover his stash of bootleg gin. I liked this short, but I think it lacks the total laughs some of the others pack. Still though, it is nice to have included in this compilation.
4. The Fatal Glass Of Beer- This short centers on the return of a son to the wilderness, after his trek into the big city world. The son has been released from prison as it happens, returning to his father and mother. Fields plays the father in this one and while I do think this one has funny parts, I was let down in the end. This is more of a humor that makes you smile, instead of laugh out loud. But it is a short film and as such, it never drags or becomes unfunny in the least.
5. The Barber Shop- Fields assumes the role of a barber in this short film and when it comes to a full load, this barber sure does have one. He spends his days catching criminals, giving very close shaves, and flirting with the manicurist, while his nights are spent with his unloving wife at home. His shop is always full of interesting stories though, such as the dog who likes to eat ears. This is a classic short film filled with laughs and some great Fields moments, so I am very glad it has been packed onto this disc.
6. The Dentist- Of course, Fields plays a dentist in this infamous short film, which has been restored to the full length for this release. A couple scenes were a little risque for the times and were axed, but they have been included here. Here we see Fields use all sorts of unusual (and painful) methods of curing patients, all while trying to keep his daughter from courting the ice man. This is the funniest short included on this disc and is a riot from start to finish. I recommend this disc for this short alone, it is just that good.