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The Bank Dick

(1940 b 72')

En: 7 Ed: 6

W. C. Fields wrote this farce about a drinker who is hired as a film director and bank detective.

In Lompoc Hermisillo Brunch (Jessie Ralph) and Myrtle Sousé (Una Merkel) complain about Egbert Sousé (W. C. Fields) smoking and drinking. Egbert tries to help a chauffeur fix his car but causes the engine to fall out. At the Black Pussy movie producer Mackley Q. Greene (Dick Purcell) says his director got drunk and asks Egbert to direct. Egbert falls out of his chair and gives orders as his daughter Elsie Mae (Evelyn Del Rio) insists on being in the movie. Police take the car of two bank robbers, who fight each other and are caught with Egbert, who is given credit for catching them by Og Oggilby (Grady Sutton). News reports Egbert a hero, but his family still ignores him. Og tells his fiancé Myrtle what her father did, and she kisses Og. At the bank Egbert says he needs medical operations because of his tussle. Bank president Skinner (Pierre Watkin) hires Egbert as a bank dick, and Egbert tells Og he has detective disguises. In a uniform Egbert goes to the bar. J. Frothingham Waterbury (Russell Hicks) is selling stock in the Beefsteak Mines, and Egbert persuades Og to invest.

Bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington (Franklin Pangborn) is diverted by Egbert. Og tells Egbert that he sacrificed all, informing Myrtle that he took $500 from the bank and invested in the mines. Egbert takes Snoopington to the Black Pussy and has the bartender (Shemp Howard) give him a Mickey Finn. Snoopington says he feels ill, and Egbert takes him to his hotel. Egbert calls Dr. Stall (Harlan Briggs), who tells Snoopington what to take for three days; but Egbert gets him to make it four days. Skinner reprimands Egbert, who ogles the secretary. Snoopington comes to examine the books. Og sees him and faints. Egbert steps on Snoopington's glasses, but he has more. Waterbury reads of a Beefsteak mine bonanza and tells Og he will buy back his stock; but Egbert sees the news and knocks out Waterbury. During a hold-up Egbert tells Og to give the robber his stock too. Egbert drives the robber recklessly. Og, Skinner, and Greene chase them, followed by the cops. Egbert's brakes fail, and the car falls apart. The robber is unconscious when the police arrive. Egbert earns the reward, and Greene gives him a contract for his script. Og will share his bonds too. In the final scene rich Egbert kisses each of his relatives, including his wife Agatha Sousé (Cora Witherspoon), and goes for a walk.

Fields satirizes early film-making but uses the many tricks he knows to get laughs, concluding with a climactic car chase. Underlying much of the humor is still the difficulty of getting money or hanging on to it.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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