For Reel

The Bank Dick (1940)
December 2, 2011, 7:52 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edward F. Cline

Often considered to be the best of his features, The Bank Dick stars W.C. Fields as a drunkard who stumbles his way into heroism. Beyond it’s comedic pleasures, it’s an interesting time capsule that reflects the American economy in recovery from the depression. Though the film involves low-life crooks, perhaps the most villainous of characters is the bank president – a smug, bourgeois classist who refuses Fields a proper handshake. Oblivious to the severity of his predicament, Fields finds himself caught up in an embezzlement scheme involving something called “Beefsteak Mines.” Much of the humor in the film is derived from similarly unusual names – characters are known as Og Oggilby, J. Pinkerton Snoopington, and so on – and it is Fields’ dry responses that serve as a consistent source of humor: “Og Oggilby… sounds like a bubble in a bathtub!” Though Fields’ comedy doesn’t quite have the ageless bite of the Marx Brothers, The Bank Dick remains a serviceable screwball farce with a nicely achieved climactic chase sequence.