Customer Review

122 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sooooo Close!, September 13, 2004
This review is from: W.C. Fields Comedy Collection (The Bank Dick / My Little Chickadee / You Can't Cheat an Honest Man / It's a Gift / International House) (DVD)
I have been waiting years for "It's a Gift" to make it onto DVD, and it would appear that my wish will finally come true with the release of this set. I will undoubtedly buy the collection, but I already have the Criterion version of "The Bank Dick" (and also their great release of the collection of 6 short films), and "Chickadee" and "Honest Man", while crowd-pleasers, never made it onto my list of must-see Fields films. I, like many others, am baffled by the choice of "International House" for inclusion, as Fields probably only spends about 1/30th of the time on screen, but if owning it is the price I must pay to see a great copy of "It's a Gift", then so be it!

I also hope that enough people buy this to prompt additional releases of some of the other pure Fields vehicles like "Man on the Flying Trapeze", "The Old Fashioned Way", "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break", and "Poppy". (Now that would make for a nice boxed-set!)

For me, Fields's comedy is still remarkably fresh, usually bitingly funny, always a treat for the ears, and sometimes even touching. 10 quick quotes from "Bank Dick" and "It's a Gift":
1) "Caught him on the first bounce!" (After gently bringing the ailing bank examiner through the hotel lobby up to his room, running back downstairs to the lobby out the front door, and again walking the bank examiner back through the hotel lobby)
2) Egbert: "Was I in here last night, and did I spend a twenty-dollar bill?" Bartender: "Why yes!" Egbert: "What a load that is off my mind! I thought I'd lost it!"
3) "See you got that door closed again" (Mr. Muckle the blind man after sticking his cane through Bissonette's glass door)
4) "Capital L, small a, capital F, small o, small n, small g; LaFong; Carl LaFong"
5) "I'll be sober tomorrow; you'll be crazy the rest of your life"
6) "You'd like to have a nose like that full of nickels, wouldn't you?" (Mother, to a young brat pointing at Fields's prominent proboscis)
7) "The resale value of this car is going to be nil after this ride."
8) "I'm very fond of children. Girl children, around eighteen, twenty"
9) Mrs. Sousé: "Don't you dare strike that child!" Egbert Sousé: "She's not gonna tell ME I don't love her."
10) Customer: "What do you have in the way of steaks"? Sousé: "Not a thing, I can get right to 'em".

"It's a Gift" and "The Bank Dick" are great mainly because of Fields, but they have great supporting casts (the great Franklin Pangborn as Bank Examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington; Kathleen Howard as Amelia Bissonette; Tammany Young as the store clerk in "Gift"; Shemp Howard as bartender Joe Guelpe; Grady Sutton as Og Oggilby; Una Merkel as Egbert's mother-in-law; and Russell Hicks as the lugubrious J. Frothingham Waterbury.

"Chickadee" is famous for the pairing of Fields and Mae West, but it always irked me that (no offense to you Mae fans out there) valuable screen time was taken away from Fields so that we could see the venerable Ms. West show off her ample assets. "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man" is much closer to my heart, especially for the banter between Fields and Charlie McCarthy and some of the circus scenes, but overall my preference is for all Fields, all the time. (OK, I'll admit that a little Mortimer Snerd is never a bad thing).

In a perfect world, we would be able to pick and choose which W.C. Fields DVD to watch on any given day. Since they are so few and far between, I have to laud the upcoming release of these films, regardless of whether all 5 really show of the Great Man's talents to their best. And who knows, maybe if there is enough interest, the other great Fields films will hit the market soon. Anyway, the few minutes of Fields in "International House" is much much better than 2+ hours of the latest action adventure extravaganza taking up screen space at the gigaplex.

"As my dear old grandfather Litvak said (just before they swung the trap), he said 'You can't cheat an honest man. Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.'"
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 16, 2008 11:32:35 AM PST
Egbert Souse ("The Bank Dick") didn't make the "nothing in the way of steaks" comment. It was Harold Bissonette in IT'S A GIFT. Souse was not a grocery store owner.

Posted on Sep 23, 2009 7:11:12 AM PDT
B. Matthews says:
Great review!

Posted on Jan 3, 2010 6:02:04 PM PST
Nice review! It's a gift and The Bank Dick are two of my favorites, too! They sure don't do comedy like they used to.

Posted on Jan 4, 2010 9:06:53 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2010 9:11:45 AM PST
L. Braverman says:
9)" Mrs. Sousé: "Don't you dare strike that child!" Egbert Sousé: "She's not gonna tell ME I don't love her." "

Don't know about that; I DO know he says it as Bissonette after almost striking Tommy Bupp in "It's a gift" Otherwise a great review, many thanks.

Posted on Oct 23, 2013 6:57:58 PM PDT
rain cloud says:
"Make him drag you, lady, he got you drunk!"
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