The Bank Dick (1940)

the bank dick 1940

A true classic with W.C.Fields as Egbert Souse (pronounced: “Soo-Zay’). Look for Shemp Howard as bartender Joe Guelpe. Future “Racket Squad” host Reed Hadley appears as Francois. Una Merkel is Myrtle Souse. Cora Witherspoon is Agatha Souse. Character actor Franklin Pangborn appear as J.Pinkerton Snoopington and Grady Sutton is Og Oggilby. The script is by Fields using the name Mahatma Kane Jeeves.

Souse doesn’t have a real job. He supports his wife and daughters by entering puzzle contests. He spends most of his time at The Black Pussy Cat Saloon owned by bartender Joe Guelpe (Shemp Howard). He meets movie producer Mackley Q. Greene at the bar and tells him he used to direct all the great ones. Greene’s director is drunk as usual and Souse gets the job.

On the set some try and sober the real director up while Souse takes over. He meets the star Francoise (Reed Hadley) and the female lead. He uses a script he’s had hidden away which is some kind of football picture.

While he’s on the set two robbers are holding up the bank. They pull a gun on teller Og Ogilby (Grady Sutton) He’s also the fiance of Souse’s daughter Myrtle (Una Merkel). The two escape as Souse is just walking by. That leads to him accidentally capturing one of the men, Loudmouth McNasty. (The credits have the character listed as Filthy McNasty).

Souse is a hero. Bank president Mr.Skinner rewards him with a 1940 calender and a job as a bank dick. While in uniform he’s back at the bar and meets con man J. Frothingham Waterbury. He’s selling phony stock in a beefsteak mine. Souse tells him to stop by the bank.

Og is getting a five hundred dollar bonus in four days. Souse convinces him to buy the stock. Og embezzles the money figuring he can put it back when he gets his bonus. It’s bad timing as bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington (Franklin Pangborn) shows up. Og is in a  panic.

Souse takes Snoopington to the bar and signals Joe to give him a Mickey Finn. It doesn’t knock him out but he does get whoozy. Souse takes him back to the hotel and keeps making food references to make him sick. He fixes it up with the doctor to keep him there for four days.

Snoopington is dedicated to his job no matter what and shows up at the bank. Og faints.  Elsewhere Waterbury reads in the paper that the mine struck ore and the stock is worth a lot of bucks. He’s goes back to Lompoc and to Og in the bank.

He offers to buy the stock back cheap and Og goes for it. Just them Souse sees the same newspaper story and stops the sale. Now the second robber pulls a gun on Og. While escaping he forces Souse to drive him out of town and a long car chase begins. Most of it is done with the actors sitting in front of a back screen but there are a number of stunt drivers tearing around the road.

This is a must see for anyone who likes comedy and will make you a Fields fan. Pangborn is more restrained here than in most of his movies. Shemp Howard plays it straight.

Shemp Howard

Shemp Howard

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About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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4 Responses to The Bank Dick (1940)

  1. dfordoom says:

    One of the funniest movies ever made. Close to being Fields’ masterpiece although NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK is perhaps an even better film.

    • vintage45 says:

      Never Give A Sucker An Even Break was a great movie. Fields just did whatever he wanted to. A lot of people didn’t get it and they missed a lot of fun. I hope to be posting an item about it soon.

  2. Joseph Nebus says:

    It’s a wonderful film. It has kind of got the feeling that the plot is getting in the way of Fields just puttering around, which is a problem really great comedians seem to have with movies.

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