Watched: October 21 2016

Director: Edward F. Cline

Starring: W.C. Fields, Cora Witherspoon, Una Merkel, Grady Sutton, Franklin Pangborn

Year: 1940

Runtime: 1h 12min

Note: since one sister (Sister the Youngest) fucked off to Oslo for a week, Sister the Oldest watched this one alone. Well, not alone, as she does have friends apart from her immediate family. So she watched it with a friend. Who’s real.

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Bumbling buffoon Egbert Sousé (Fields) drinks too much, has no career to speak of and his family does not respect him. So he goes out in search of a drink. On the way, he stumbles across a film team whose drunken director is unable to work and naturally they hire Sousé.

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Anyone capable of sitting on a chair shouting into a tube is automatically qualified to work as a director in 1940. Sadly, Sousé isn’t really able to do the former.

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After his short stint as director, Sousé finds himself in the vicinity of bank robbers trying to escape. He is credited with stopping them and so gets a job as a bank guard. His daughter’s fiancé Og Oggilby (Sutton) works in the same bank and after Sousé is offered the chance to invest in stock in a mining company, he persuades his future son-in-law to “borrow” $500 from the bank.

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“Of course it’s okay to borrow money from the bank! I’m head of security, aren’t I? Check out my trustworthy face!”

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Unfortunately, a bank examiner, J. Pinkerton Snoopington (Pangborn) shows up the very next day and Sousé and Oggilby must join wits (of which Og especially has very little) to keep the examiner to discover the missing $500. Let the farce commence!

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Rule number one when being investigated: take the investigator out for drinks and slip them a mickey.

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This is a very silly movie full of fucked up characters, over-the-top performances and slapstick humour. The main character is gullable, stupid and self-aggrandizing, yet he is also occasionally likeable, possibly because the way his family treats him makes you feel a bit sorry for him. But usually not for long, as he parries their attacks on him with attempted murder such as when he tries to throw a concrete vase at his youngest daughter.

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It’s practically as big as its intended target

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The real gem here though is the car chase towards the end of the film. It is fast, funny and impressive in so many ways – such as the very real danger in which it must have put stunt performers. Even if farcical slapstick films aren’t  your thing, it is well worth watching The Bank Dick for this scene alone. Or if you enjoy violence against 8-year-olds. And let’s face it – who doesn’t? Have fun!

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Naturally, no still can do a great chase scene justice, so you’ll just have to watch the film.

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What we learned: poor men are mad – rich men are eccentric. Also, it was surprisingly easy to get a job as a director back in the day.

Next time: The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

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4 thoughts on “#52 The Bank Dick

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