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Bank Dick, The (1940)

 

You can also find dick in a W.C.
You can also find dick in a W.C.

Genre: Comedy

Starring: W.C. Fields (It's a Gift Never Give a Sucker an Even Break), Grady Sutton (Anchors AweighStage Door

Directed By: Edward F. Cline (One WeekMy Little Chickadee)

Overview: Among other things, Egbert Sousé is offered a job as the bank's own dick after taking credit for foiling a bank robbery. While there, he gets his soon-to-be son-in-law in hot water after advising him to 'borrow' the bank's money to buy up some cheap stocks.

At 72 minutes and with the added wonderful innovation of sound, The Bank Dick steps out of the realm of the typical Roach/Keaton/Arbuckle two-reeler of the early days of the flicker, but keeps the essence of those films from 30 years before, namely out-of-context random gags, political correctness tossed right out the window and consistent laughs.
 
Egbert Sousé - and yes they drill the 'souse' joke into the ground - has a vicious little daughter, a mean old mother-in-law, a nitpicking wife and not a penny in his wallet. The only good things in his life are his grown daughter and his drinking habit. Egbert spends his days drinking and falling into opportunities, ranging from a gag-rich shot at being a film director to foiling a bank robbery and landing a job as security guard for it. Once settled into his job he catches wind of a terrific investment opportunity, suggest to his eldest daughter's suitor that he just 'borrow' it from the bank till he gets his upcoming bonus. All seems to be going fine until a routine trip from an auditor risks everything - more hilarity ensues as Og frantically does what he can to get money, and Egbert does what he can do delay the audit.
His nose constantly throws off his center of balance.
His nose constantly throws off his center of balance.
 
Particularly awesome and awkward gags to look out for:
  • Egbert Sousé's daughter bouncing a glass bottle off his skull followed by Egbert coming back with a planter the size of a full-grown man in his hands to retaliate with.
  • The scene with the black guy... sorry I mean 'the coloured fella' who's withdrawing all his money from the bank
  • Egbert strangling a child in the bank. 
  • Egbert taking the sick auditor upstairs, going outside and then bringing him back upstairs - cause the auditor fell out the window.
 
W.C. Fields has a thing about one-upping The Stooges when it comes to getting hurt. The Stooges may have said "OOooo!" and "OOoowch!" while getting their noses caught in wrenches but for some reason you really buy it when W.C. gets his. The sound work goes awesomely overboard. Add an awesome bank robbery chase scene and a cameo from Shemp Howard as the bartender and The Bank Dick is a fun time all around.

 

She's my favourite, cause he's the cruelest with her!
She's my favourite, cause he's the cruelest with her!

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 7 Script: 7 Plot: 7 Mood: 7

Overall Rating: 72% (It IS Worth Dick!)
Aftertaste:

Adding the slant of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book, it seems that this was added merely for the fact that it was considered the best of W.C. Fields' films, even though It's A Gift is also in that grand tome. I'm entirely aware that the 1001 book has quotas for films per year, but selections like this one makes me realize that there must be genre quotas as well. Readers - and 1001 club members surely - don't want a constant stream of heavy dramas, and though The Bank Dick might genuinely not be a must-see-before-you-die film, it's a solid selection that breaks up 'the study' into fun, manageable chunks.

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