April 21 is the anniversary of the release date of the hilarious W.C. Fields short The Pharmacist (1933), directed by Arthur Ripley.
This short, one of a handful Fields made for Mack Sennett, was one of the earliest talkie iterations of a character Fields had done many times in sketches on Broadway and in some of his silent features: that of the harried, hen-pecked small town professional man (in this case, a drug store owner, who happens to sell bootleg hooch on the side). Along the way he takes guff from everybody: his customers, his daughters, and above all his wife (Marjorie Kane). Soon enough he would be exploring this milieu in a lot more depth in his Paramount features of the 30s, like You’re Telling Me and It’s a Gift (both 1934).
For more on silent and slapstick comedy please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc. To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.