We were delighted to see that just added comedy shorts of W.C. Fields to its streaming platform. Unlike most of the so-called classic comedians, Fields made relatively few shorts: two silents (made in the wake of Chaplin’s monster success) and five talkies, made at the beginning of his sound career. While shorts are arguably the superlative comedy form, most comedians strove to escape them for the greater money and prestige of feature-length. Fields achieved that twice, in the silent era and the age of sound. But Fields fan cherish his shorts, mostly because they are based on Fields’ Broadway revue sketches. And naturally they are hysterical. The collection includes five of his shorts: Pool Sharks (1915), The Golf Specialist (1930), The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933), The Pharmacist (1933), and The Barber Shop (1933). There are two significant omissions on Criterion’s streaming platform to note: The Dentist (1932) and of course His Majesty’s Dilemma (1915), which is lost. The former, like a few of the others, has been widely available for years. The latter, sadly, is a lost film. Just click on the links above to learn more about the films! And browse over 100 posts about W.C. Fields here.
Also on Criterion for the nonce “The Best of Mae West“. And with eight films in their bundle, it’s almost ALL OF Mae West. They’ve got She Done Him Wrong (1933), I’m No Angel (1933), Belle of the Nineties (1934), Goin’ to Town (1935), Klondike Annie (1936), Go West Young Man (1936), Every Day’s a Holiday (1937) and My Little Chickadee (1940), which of course brings us back to W.C. Fields. All that’s missing from the great lady’s modestly sized ouevre. All that’s missing is Night After Night (1932) in which she has a supporting part, The Heat’s On (1943) in which she has little screen time, and her two cuckoo geriatric efforts Myra Breckinridge (1970) and Sextette (1978). Like they, say, they’re showing her best! (or perhaps her un-worst). Farran Smith Nehme wrote the terrific essay that accompanies the series — and she gave me a shout out!
Meanwhile, TCM will be showing a HUGE amount of Laurel and Hardy pictures, all day on December 7, 14 and 28, every Monday except the 21st. ALL of their movies would probably be too much to expect, but they are showing most of them. The full rundown is here. And you can read about all of them in the Laurel and Hardy section of Travalanche. And please follow me on Twitter: I’ll be live tweeting these films as they screen them.
For more on classic comedy film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.