A magical time was had by all at last night’s Fields Fest screening of W.C. Fields’ The Bank Dick at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, L.I., introduced by special guest Dr. Harriet Fields, W.C. Fields‘ only granddaughter, a global health activist. Harriet (named after her grandmother), spoke in glowing terms of her father’s contributions to American culture and the many testimonials to his importance (and goodness) she’s received from the likes of John Oliver, Conan O’Brien, Dick Cavett, the late Pierre Etaix, and Fields’ co-workers like George Cukor (who directed David Copperfield ), Grady Sutton, Margaret Hamilton, Jan Duggan, and Kathleen Howard. She also spoke of The Bank Dick itself, remarking that Mack Sennett said Fields deserved an Oscar for his performance in the film (he ought to have thought so — the whole movie is a veritable tribute to Sennett) and no less than William Saroyan said the screenplay deserved an award. The audience of fans was abuzz with interesting questions, and Harriet provided many humorous stories and quotes, including one I just know I will use again and again, “More people are driven insane by religious hysteria than by drinking alcohol.”
Above all, few things will ever top my getting to watch The Bank Dick side by side with W.C. Fields granddaughter. Many thanks to all who made it possible.