Story is credited to Mahatma Kane Jeeves, Fields' own humorous nom de plume. It's a deliberate rack on which to hang the varied Fieldsian comedic routines, many of them repeats from previous pictures but with enough new material inserted to overcome the antique gags. A wild auto ride down the mountainside for the climax is an old formula dating back to the Mack Sennett days, but director Edward Cline [and 'collaborating director' Ralph Ceder] has refurbished the episode with new twists that make it a thrill-laugh dash of top proportions.

Story is credited to Mahatma Kane Jeeves, Fields’ own humorous nom de plume. It’s a deliberate rack on which to hang the varied Fieldsian comedic routines, many of them repeats from previous pictures but with enough new material inserted to overcome the antique gags. A wild auto ride down the mountainside for the climax is an old formula dating back to the Mack Sennett days, but director Edward Cline [and 'collaborating director' Ralph Ceder] has refurbished the episode with new twists that make it a thrill-laugh dash of top proportions.

Fields is the town’s foremost elbow bender who injects himself into any situation without invitation. The unexpected hero of a bank robbery, he is rewarded with the job of detective to guard against future holdups. He involves his prospective son-in-law as a temporary embezzler to buy wildcat mining stock, and then holds off the bank examiner via the Mickey Finn route. Repeat bank robbery again results in Fields’ accepting hero honors, the reward and sudden riches from a film directing contract.

Several times, Fields reaches into satirical pantomime reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s best efforts during his Mutual and Essanay days. Directorial guidance by Cline (graduate of the Keystone Kop school) smacks over every gag line and situation to the fullest extent.

Fields has a field day in tabbing the various characters. His own screen name, he is careful to explain, is pronounced Soo-zay, and not Souse, as it appears from English pronunciation.

The Bank Dick

Production

Universal. Director Edward Cline; Producer [uncredited]; Screenplay Mahatma Kane Jeeves [= W.C. Fields]; Camera Milton Krasner; Editor Arthur Hilton; Music Charles Previn (dir.); Art Director Jack Otterson, Richard Riedel

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1940. Running time: 69 MIN.

With

W.C. Fields Cora Witherspoon Una Merkel Jessie Ralph Franklin Pangborn Grady Sutton
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