Friday, April 22, 2011

W.C. Fields Remembered

Over at AltScreen, I have an essay on one of my heroes, the great W.C. Fields: "The Con-Man Philosopher and The Everyday Sucker: W.C. Fields' Cheat-or-Be-Cheated Comic Persona."

Here's an excerpt:
Fields was many things on-screen—a proselytizing misanthrope, a skilled raconteur, an embittered husband, a frequent imbiber, and a kicker of children and small dogs. He was also the rare honestly crooked man in a crookedly honest world. The essence of Fields’ persona can be divided into two main types that are related like opposite sides of the same coin. He is both cinema’s most crushable charlatan and the working class everyman beaten down by life’s mundane frustrations. The two roles are a call and response: Con Man Fields is the yin to Conned Man Fields’ yang. Together they’re like object lessons in how to navigate the modern world. Cheat or be cheated.


  1. Just showed my daughter "The Bank Dick," in which he switches back and forth between the two personae....

  2. Even in his offstage life, Fields found odd ways of entertaining himself. One story claims that he used to hide in the bushes outside his mansion and fire BB pellets at the legs of tourists who wandered up his driveway.


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