Wednesday, March 28, 2007

[wc fields] never give a sucker an even break - part 1

What to say about this film? Newsday says:

Younger audiences, conditioned to the present-day's affection for the slam-bang sight gag, may be impatient with the elaborate handiwork and polish applied to such bits by comedians of Fields' vintage. But if they sit still long enough, they may find something akin to poetry in these slow-cooking routines.

Slow-cooking, dated, with a star who's no Valentino - what's to love? For those who like their comedy exquisite - a lot. This film is truly surreal in a Pythonesque way, with the plot mirroring the behind the scenes situation, plays within plays, total lack of concern with either the laws of physics or continuity and the constant flow of wry observations, sometimes to the camera itself. Plus the roguishness of Fields, the master of timing.

Now you can get it on DVD, I think a new generation of discerning filmgoers is going to discover why this film is on so many people's Top 100 list.

From the Filmsite:

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) is a tour de force of W.C. Fields' off-beat humor, double-takes, broad comedy and priceless lines and sketches. The screenplay by John T. Noville and Prescott Chaplin was based upon Fields' own original material (under the nom de plume Otis Criblecoblis).

The film is absurd, irrational, surrealistic, innovative and wacky, with no real plot - it was cut so severely that it appears to be an erratic hodge-podge, without cohesion or continuity. W. C. Fields' last starring role in a feature-length film, it consists mainly of a series of flashbacks (the script's action is read by a film producer played by Franklin Pangborn) and a number of disjointed, funny and bizarre scenes spoofing his own cinematic career, Hollywood and the filmmaking industry.

The film itself is covered here.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

thanks for this. I will look for the DVD. I love Fields and no one made a better Mr Micawber.

james higham said...

Yes, I was forgetting about Micawber.