“You’d like to have a nose like that full of nickels, wouldn’t you?”
When henpecked Egbert Souse (W.C. Fields) inadvertently captures a bank robber, he’s offered a job as a “bank dick” by the bank’s grateful president (Pierre Watkin). Meanwhile, he naively convinces his future son-in-law (Grady Sutton) to borrow money from the bank in order to buy phony mining stock from a con-artist (Russell Hicks). When bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington (Franklin Pangborn) arrives in town, Souse must do what he can to postpone the audit.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Often cited as W.C. Field’s finest film, The Bank Dick offers a heady distillation of the comedian at his iconic best. He waltzes through his own meandering script (credited to “Mahatma Kane Jeeves”) with an eye constantly turned towards the local drinking hole, the Black Pussy Cafe (!) — and, though he wants nothing more than to escape from his obnoxious family of henpecking females (wife, mother-in-law, and daughters all despise him), he nonetheless finds himself haplessly caught up in one adventure after the other.
Unfortunately, though Fields is as enjoyable as ever, much of the humor in The Bank Dick is either dated (there’s far too much physical slapstick), blatantly offensive (note the awful scene with the wild-eyed African-American customer at the bank), or simply a retread of themes from his earlier films. With that said, The Bank Dick possesses wonderful performances by its cast of supporting actors (particularly Franklin Pangborn and Grady Sutton), and remains essential viewing for all serious film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- W.C. Fields in yet another iconic role; Peary (an inveterate Fields fan) nominates him for an Alternate Oscar as best actor of the year
- Franklin Pangborn as bank examiner Snoopington
- Grady Sutton as Souse’s would-be son-in-law
- Mr. Skinner giving Souse a “hearty handclasp” (this shot gets me every time!)
Yes. Though it’s not my favorite W.C. Fields film, it’s widely regarded as among his best, and should be seen by all film fanatics.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)