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The Bank Dick (1940)  IMDB   
Genre Comedy/Anarchic Comedy MPAA
Director Edward F. Cline Rating
Writer W.C. Fields Runtime 72 minutes
Producer Type Movie
Cinematographer Milton Krasner Format DVD
Studio Universal Pictures Disk No. 1/1
Language English Edition
Country USA UPC
Color Black and White    
Plot Summary

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The matchless W.C. Fields plays Egbert Souse, a bibulous denizen of Lompoc who supports his family by winning radio contests. While drinking his breakfast at the Black Pussy Cafe, Souse is invited by a nervous movie production manager (Dick Purcell) to finish directing a picture being shot in Lompoc (the nominal director is three sheets to the wind). Later that same day, a fleeing bank robber is knocked cold when he trips over the park bench where Egbert sits. Hailed as a hero, Souse is offered the job of bank guard. The next day, Souse is approached by one J. Frothingham Waterbury (Russell Hicks), who offers to sell Egbert shares in the Beefsteak Mines. Souse raises the necessary money by convincing bank clerk Og Oggilby (Grady Sutton), the fiance of Egbert's daughter Myrtle (Una Merkel), to "borrow" some funds from the bank; it isn't really embezzling, explains Egbert, because the mine is bound to pay off. Unfortunately, bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington (Franklin Pangborn) comes calling, obliging Souse to slip the hapless examiner a "Michael Finn", rendering the poor man deathly ill. When the green-around-the-gills Snoopington persists in his examination, all seems lost---but the Beefsteak Mine pays off, and Souse is able to replace the money without being found out. And there's more! Another bank robber commits another heist, taking Souse hostage and forcing the timorous "bank dick" to drive the getaway car. After a wild slapstick chase, the robber is glad to be caught, and Souse is given a huge reward. And there's MORE!!! The production manager from Reel One pops up out of nowhere to offer Souse an exorbitant sum for the "screenplay" that Egbert had improvised during his single day as a movie director! The Bank Dick is 72 minutes of pure, unadulterated W. C. Fields, right down to the screenplay credit for "Mahatma Kane Jeeves." Don't miss this one! --- Hal Erickson
Actor / Character

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W.C. Fields ..... Egbert Sousé
Cora Witherspoon ..... Agatha Sousé
Una Merkel ..... Myrtle Sousé
Evelyn del Rio ..... Elsie Mae Adele Brunch Sousé
Jessie Ralph ..... Mrs. Hermisillo Brunch
Franklin Pangborn ..... J. Pinkerton Snoopington
Grady Sutton ..... Og Oggilby
Shemp Howard ..... Joe Guelpe
Russell Hicks ..... J. Frothingham Waterbury
Pierre Watkin ..... Mr. Skinner
Al Hill ..... Repulsive Rogan
George Moran ..... Loudmouth McNasty
Bill Wolfe ..... Otis
Jack Norton ..... A. Pismo Clam
Pat West ..... Assistant Director
Reed Hadley ..... François, leading man
Heather Wilde ..... Miss Plupp
Harlan Briggs ..... Doctor Stall
Vangie Beilby ..... Old lady with dog
Kay Sutton ..... Young Woman on Bench
Emma Tansey ..... Old woman on bench
Charles Sullivan ..... Driver
Margaret Seddon ..... Old lady in car
Eddie Acuff ..... Reporter
Lowden Adams ..... Francois' valet
Mary Field ..... Woman
Frankie Van ..... Director's helper
Dorothy Vernon ..... Old lady
Max Wagner ..... Shirtless ditchdigger
Emmett Vogan ..... Hotel Desk Clerk
Fay Holderness ..... Lady passerby
Billy Mitchell ..... Black Bank Customer
Jack Clifford ..... Cop
George Moran ..... Cozy Cochran
Eddie Dunn ..... James, the Chauffeur
Jan Duggan ..... Woman in Bank
Bobby Larson ..... Boy in Bank
Dick Purcell ..... Mackley Q. Greene
David Oliver ..... Straw-hatted teller
Nora Cecil ..... Ladies Auxiliary
Patsy Moran ..... Lady with fruit hat
Joe North ..... Butler
Pat O'Malley ..... Cop
Al Hill ..... Filthy McNasty
Awards

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(1992) Library of Congress - U.S. National Film Registry (win) .....
Review

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The Bank Dick is perhaps W.C. Fields' best movie. Despite a scant 72-minute running time, it breezes through enough plot for ten lesser films, managing to build and double back on itself to a satisfying conclusion. The humor is both physical and intellectual. Fields was among the innovators of early sound films in using contemporary cultural references; yet the movie is not so tied to its era that its references have become obscure. As Fields' style of quick-witted humor grew, the popularity of such low-brow comedians as El Brendel fell. There's a nice supporting performance from Shemp Howard, but the film belongs to Fields. --- Richard Gilliam

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