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PMF

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Philip
... as to whether any one under 25 has seen Fields projected on big screen ... I doubt many have ...:cool:
Thanks to Kino Lorber’s impressive output of W.C. Fields, let’s hope that those percentages towards delighting a newer generation increases, no matter how small that number may be. All it takes is one film buff in a dorm who has friends that are not offended by anything shot in Black & White.

Thank you, Kino Lorber.:thumbs-up-smiley:
 

PMF

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Wonder what percentage of the modern audience has even a clue who he was.
I’ll try to think of a few from this group of “moderns” and have a couple of BDs handy as an introductory giveaway, inclusive of the KIno Lorber website and phone number.
 
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sbjork

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What I love most about You’re Telling Me is just how much comeuppance Fields is able to dish out (via his friend the “Princess” who actually is a Princess) at Kathleen Howard - the ending shot of “Trapeze” is wonderful in that regard but in You’re Telling Me it just goes on and on and on, and her character deserves every second of it.
I finished writing up You're Telling Me this morning, and the thing that really struck me on this viewing is that he isn't the one dishing out the comeuppance -- it's entirely Princess Lescaboura's doing. He tries to help her out when she doesn't really need it, and she's so touched that she helps him in return. Sam Brisbee is one of the sweetest, most harmless characters that Fields ever played. He doesn't deserve any of the scorn that he receives from others, and so it's even more satisfying to see them get their just deserts. (That's also why it's important in this one that Kathleen Howard isn't playing his wife. She needed to get it with both barrels.)

The film definitely moved up a notch in my Fields rankings this time. Not that I really rank anything, but you know what I mean.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I read and enjoyed your review with my morning coffee earlier!

the thing that really struck me on this viewing is that he isn't the one dishing out the comeuppance -- it's entirely Princess Lescaboura's doing. He tries to help her out when she doesn't really need it, and she's so touched that she helps him in return. Sam Brisbee is one of the sweetest, most harmless characters that Fields ever played.

I wholly agree.

The film is unexpectedly good natured and pure of heart, and that’s one of the things that really stands out about it for me. It’s disarming in its innocence, and that’s one of the things that makes it perhaps the most feel good of all the Fields films.

It’s A Gift and The Bank Dick get a lot of acclaim, and rightfully so, but You’re Telling Me is one of the true hidden gems of his catalog.

The most important contribution Fields made in terms of writing, and this applies to both his stage and screen work, was that he had an absolute genius sense of not just who his character should be, but maybe even more importantly, who all of the characters around him needed to be. His surviving papers really show that this was the element he focused a lot of his energy on - what should the wife be like? what gender(s) and age(s) should the kids be - what’s the family dynamic - what kind of friends / coworkers / colleagues is he spending his time with? He was so incredibly precise in fine tuning all of the details about everyone he would interact with, knowing that how favorably the audience responded to him depended a great deal on how they felt about the people he was reacting to.
 

sbjork

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I read and enjoyed your review with my morning coffee earlier!



I wholly agree.

The film is unexpectedly good natured and pure of heart, and that’s one of the things that really stands out about it for me. It’s disarming in its innocence, and that’s one of the things that makes it perhaps the most feel good of all the Fields films.

It’s A Gift and The Bank Dick get a lot of acclaim, and rightfully so, but You’re Telling Me is one of the true hidden gems of his catalog.

The most important contribution Fields made in terms of writing, and this applies to both his stage and screen work, was that he had an absolute genius sense of not just who his character should be, but maybe even more importantly, who all of the characters around him needed to be. His surviving papers really show that this was the element he focused a lot of his energy on - what should the wife be like? what gender(s) and age(s) should the kids be - what’s the family dynamic - what kind of friends / coworkers / colleagues is he spending his time with? He was so incredibly precise in fine tuning all of the details about everyone he would interact with, knowing that how favorably the audience responded to him depended a great deal on how they felt about the people he was reacting to.
Funny you should mention It's a Gift and The Bank Dick, because those were the exact two that I ended up contrasting it with.

You're absolutely right about the surrounding characters -- Brisbee is good enough at heart that I think it was important to pair him with a wife who wasn't a shrewish harpy. His wife in this one is disappointed by him and even embarrassed by him, but not out of malice. She simply doesn't get him. Only his daughter comes close.

On the other hand, in The Bank Dick, Sousé is a conniving ne'er-do-well, so it was important that not a single other character in the film be even remotely sympathetic. Sousé stays sympathetic no matter what he does, because who else could viewers sympathize with? Even at the end, when his family talks about how much he has changed, it's just that he has money now. Their perceptions of him are based solely on his financial value to them. That's why he even stays sympathetic when he slinks off to the bar at the end -- who could blame him?
 

Josh Steinberg

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And all of that goes to what makes these films endure and play well even today among any modern audience that can be persuaded to give them a chance - even if the exact scenarios are no longer precisely relatable, the character types played by Fields and the ensemble still ring true today.

Man On The Flying Trapeze is a perfect example of that - it is immensely relatable despite being nearly 100 years old. And yet, who amongst us can’t relate to feeling like you can’t take a day off from the office, or that the rules seem to apply doubly to us while not to anyone around us? The costumes and the cars are old, but the frustrations are timeless.
 

sbjork

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And all of that goes to what makes these films endure and play well even today among any modern audience that can be persuaded to give them a chance - even if the exact scenarios are no longer precisely relatable, the character types played by Fields and the ensemble still ring true today.

Man On The Flying Trapeze is a perfect example of that - it is immensely relatable despite being nearly 100 years old. And yet, who amongst us can’t relate to feeling like you can’t take a day off from the office, or that the rules seem to apply doubly to us while not to anyone around us? The costumes and the cars are old, but the frustrations are timeless.
That's one case where it's nice to see him finally in the driver's seat at the end -- literally so.
 

Josh Steinberg

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That's one case where it's nice to see him finally in the driver's seat at the end -- literally so.

It's essentially the same emotional payoff as You're Telling Me, but done in five seconds instead of 20 minutes :)
 

sbjork

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It's essentially the same emotional payoff as You're Telling Me, but done in five seconds instead of 20 minutes :)
Good point. But appropriate, because Wolfinger isn't quite as deserving as Brisbee is. His payoff should be shorter!

Funnily enough, I looked up my original The Bank Dick review from a few months ago, and I said this at the time:

"The most fascinating thing about Fields was how audiences could sympathize with his characters no matter how unsympathetic or irredeemable that they may have been. Some of that is because of his natural charisma, but it’s also thanks to the canny way that he wrote the characters who surrounded him."
 

Josh Steinberg

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Good point. But appropriate, because Wolfinger isn't quite as deserving as Brisbee is. His payoff should be shorter!

Absolutely!

There’s really something to be said for the 65 - 75 minute comedy. These movies get right down to business as soon as they begin, and don’t linger onscreen beyond the final punchline. There’s a discipline there that’s missing in a lot of more modern productions.
 

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