Plot: Egbert Souse (W.C. Fields) doesn’t have a satisfying home life, to say the least. His wife nags him all the time and his family just doesn’t show him the respect he feels he deserves. Egbert is also unemployed, but in order to keep away from his wife, he spends a lot of time loafing and boozing at a local cafe, The Black Pussy Cat. His luck is about to take change though as he is hired for no apparent (legitimate) reason to fill in for a movie director, who was too drunk to fulfill his duties. As if that’s not enough, Egbert then captures a fleeing bank robber and is the toast of the town. But this is rather sudden for old Egbert, as he never meant to apprehend the criminal in the first place. As a reward for his good deed, the bank has offered him a guard position and of course, Egbert accepts. Also working at the bank is his daughter’s fiancee, who serves as a teller there. Before long, both men are involved in an embezzlement scam that could land them both in very hot water. Can Egbert hold off the bank examiner long enough for things to blow over, or will his hero’s honor be forfeit?
Entertainment Value: The Bank Dick is an absolute masterpiece, one of the funniest movies ever made and a showcase for W.C. Fields’ towering comedic genius, a true classic of cinema. The story is a fun one and allows for all kinds of outlandish situations, which Fields makes the most of and delivers a skilled blend of visual gags, physical humor, and verbal banter. I love how the movie has no slow stretches or downtime between laughs, as The Bank Dick flows from one humorous scenario to the next, with no breaks in the pace. This ensures the brisk 72 duration never feels slow and despite the short run time, the film packs every scene with memorable comedic elements, so no time is wasted whatsoever. The finale is epic and the chase is just hilarious, with all kinds of creative, outrageous touches mixed in, to make sure The Bank Dick closes out with a proper sendoff. I suppose might find Fields and his brand of humor as dated, but I think much of the content here feels timeless. Overly silly at times perhaps, but that is the nature of the material and Fields’ approach. To me, this is a comedy classic and one of the funniest movies ever, so it is highly recommended.
W.C. Fields is a unique comedic talent and though he shares a lot with the silent stars, he also adds in elements they were never able to master. When sound emerged, many of the great performers suffered greatly as their skills in “talkies” just weren’t up to their usual standards. The base slapstick that once wowed the audiences now left them flat, unless you could mix in some verbal humor also. Even the great Charlie Chaplin delayed the transition, but one man who meshed in perfectly in this realm was Fields. He had the same physical comedy skills that worked before, but he could also deliver dialogue with no problems at all. This gave him an edge and he used it to make some fantastic pieces during his career. In The Bank Dick he simply shines and is a constant source of humor, just one scene after another of epic laughs. His ability to play off his costars is priceless and regardless of who he shares a scene with, he is able to bring out the best in whoever shares the screen with him. The cast also includes Una Merkel, Dick Purcell, Shemp Howard, and Cora Witherspoon.