The Bank Dick (1940) starring W. C. Fields, Una Merkel, Franklin Pangborn, Shemp Howard
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The Bank Dick

The Bank Dick (1940) starring W. C. Fields, Una Merkel, Franklin Pangborn, Grady Sutton, Shemp Howard

Synopsis of The Bank Dick

W. C. Fields stars as an unemployed, henpecked drunk who spends most of his time at the Black Pussy Cat café. Things take a turn for the absurd when he unwittingly captures a bank robber and lands a job as a security guard. Written by Fields under the pseudonym Mahatma Kane Jeeves and featuring one of his most hilarious performances, The Bank Dick is an undisputed classic of American comedy. Criterion is proud to present Fields’ last major film in a new digital transfer, with English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Review of The Bank Dick

The Bank Dick is one of W. C. Fields’ most famous films – and with very good reason.  He plays the likeable, lazy, inebriate.  A man who avoids work, exaggerates his exploits, and even gets hired as a movie director – for a few minutes.  He prevents a bank robbery by accident and becomes a bank guard (‘bank dick’) as a reward.  And gets his future son-in-law in trouble.  My heart goes out to the poor bank examiner …

It’s a very funny, fast-paced comedy.  W. C. Fields’ life is surreal, with odd things happening time and again. But they seem natural, and hilariously funny as well!  The “dramatic chase” at the end of movie is flat-out hilarious, as is most of the movie.  It’s one of the great comedies for a reason, and highly recommended.

Cast of characters in The Bank Dick

  • Egbert Sousé (W. C. Fields, Million Dollar Legs).  The star of The Bank Dick.  Henpecked, lazy, drunk, self-promoting … clearly the hero of the story. 🙂
  • Agatha Sousé (Cora Witherspoon).  The hen-pecking wife.  Her husband can do nothing right – until the end of the film.
  • Myrtle Sousé (Una MerkelThe Cat’s-Paw).  Egbert’s older daughter, a nice young lady who’s engaged to:
  • Og Oggilby (Grady Sutton).  An earnest young bank teller – who foolishly listens to Egbert, and “borrows” money from the bank to buy “sure thing” stocks.
  • Elsie Mae (Evelyn Del Rio).  Egbert’s younger daughter – whose piggy bank her robs.  Clearly, a father of the year candidate.
  • J. Pinkerton Snoopington (Franklin Pangborn).  The poor bank examiner, who arrives to examine the bank books.  Before Og can return the money he “borrowed”.  So, Egbert “helps” by getting him horribly drunk, tries to convince him that he’s dying, breaks his glasses …
  • Joe Guelpe (Shemp HowardThe Three Stooges).  The proprietor of The Black Pussy Cat Café – with Egbert as his most steady customer.
  • Filthy McNasty aka Rupulsive Rogan (Al Hill).  The bank robber – who, having by foiled by Egbert once, returns.  He makes the mistake of taking Egbert captive and having him drive the getaway car.  A hilarious mistake!

Editorial review of The Bank Dick

The Bank Dick (1940) starring W. C. Fields, Una Merkel, Franklin Pangborn, Shemp HowardHigh on the list of W.C. Fields’s achievements is this 74-minute feature from 1940, rich in his brilliantly rambling inspiration. Fields plays Egbert Sousé (pronounced Soo ‘zay, of course), who manages to foil a bank robbery, tilt a glass in the Black Pussy Cafe, and marry his daughter to Og Oggilby (Grady Sutton) before the closing credits. Maintaining his usual and deliberate half-step behind the rest of the world, Fields’s characteristic persona gets a truly worthy movie here that always seems, wonderfully, to be on the verge of racing ahead of him. —Tom Keogh


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