Tuesday, October 7, 2014

W.C. Fields and Me (1976)

Director: Arthur Hiller

Writer: Bob Merrill, Carlotta Monti, Cy Rice

Composer: Henry Mancini

Starring: Rod Steiger, Valerie Perrine, John Marley, Jack Cassidy, Bernadette Peters, Dana Elcar, Paul Stewart, Billy Barty, Allan Arbus, Milt Kamen, Louis Zorich, Andrew Parks, Linda Purl

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Even a man who hates children and dogs has to love someone.

Plot: To some he was the most gifted comic of his time; to others he was a cantankerous drunk. In this biopic, both sides of W.C. Fields come to light.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I dig movies that have old Hollywood as a backdrop and this one covers it in spades, spending all of our time with one of the great comic geniuses, W.C. Fields.  If you've never seen any of his films you're missing out on some of the funniest, adult and risque flicks you'll ever see pre-1960 (I say 1960 because standards loosened up in that decade thereby constantly moving the line of what risque could be).  He took snarky to a whole new level and when you added Mae West into the picture then it was sarcastic, sexual dynamite.  Rod Steiger does a great job as Fields but I couldn't help but wonder how accurate his off-screen Fields was.  It's as if his on-screen persona never stopped.  I'm not sure if there's any film of Fields just being himself as I'm sure he was the kind of performer who was always 'on' when a camera was around or a crowd of people.  Regardless, Steiger did a fantastic Fields impersonation.  The jokes are funny and he pulls of the comic timing like clockwork.  As far as the picture goes, it's fun.  I'm sure if I watched it again with the goal of breaking the story and the film down I would find some issues but that might be a disservice to the movie as it's intended to show you the good and the bad sides of Fields and paint a picture that's not always pleasant.  They want to show the world the Fields was a human with faults just like the rest of us and one of his biggest issues was alcoholism.  It's currently streaming on Netflix which it looks like this is the only way to see it.  It's an easy DVD purchase if only one existed.

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