Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Dentist (1932) - Leslie Pearce

So so W.C. Fields short, that works in some places and fails in others. Fields plays the titular dentist, whose daughter is in love with the guy that delivers the ice. Of course old W.C. doesn't like this situation and forbids her from seeing him. Other than that we get a quick round of golf before Fields deals with some patients. That's it plot wise, but let's face it no one watches a W.C. Fields for the plot do they?

The high points are many, the golf segment is a gem, Fields is on fire as possibly the rudest person on screen during the early talkie years. The frustration of not being able to hit a ball over a lake builds and builds until not only do his clubs end up in the water, but the caddy too. Fields is equally mean to his patients, best of the bunch being a society lady who Fields drags around the room whilst trying to extract a tooth. It's painful to watch but at the same time immensely funny. Kind of like a forerunner to that whole Jackass brand of humour. Kind of. Best moment of the film though is old W.C. trying to put some ice into the freezer, it's moments like this that make his place amongst the early comedy greats seem well deserved.

Although having said all of that this isn't one of his greatest films. It's watchable and at a mere twenty minutes it skips along and is over before you know it. It just didn't feel very focused, golf + dentistry + the daughter story = one story line too many for a slapstick short. Pearce is no great shakes as a director either, he knows enough to set the camera back and follow Fields' lead, but beyond that it could have been any monkey directing. However if you like Fields and enjoy visual humour I'd say take a punt on this, you could do worse.

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