Creator: W.C. Fields
William Claude Dukenfield, a.k.a. W.C. Fields (1880–1946), was an American comedian, actor, juggler and writer, most famous during the 1930s and 1940s. He made several classic comedy films, but was also well known for his radio performances with Edgar Bergen's dummy Charlie McCarthy.Fields is best known for his comic persona as a misanthropic alcoholic who generally disliked dogs, women and children, an image that was a bit Truth in Television. His films have been praised for their clever jokes and anti-sentimental comedy, which made him a cult actor even to this day. His Magnum Opus, The Bank Dick (1941), has been Vindicated by History as one of the best comedy films of all time.Fields is endlessly quotable, being a funny comedian as he is. Not all of it is safe for work though.Fields is also present on the album cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles.
Tropes associated with W.C. Fields:
- The Alcoholic: Sadly Truth in Television."Whilst traveling through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew. Had to live on food and water for several days." [My Little Chickadee, 1940]
- Butt Monkey: Mostly Fields, though everybody gets his or her comeuppance.
- Child Hater: Considering how ill behaved the kids in those movies were, who couldn't but be on his side?
- Comedic Sociopathy
- Dark Comedy: In It's a Gift, Fields' character has a deaf and blind man visit his store. The customer smashes up everything while Fields desperately tries to tell him to sit down and don't move!
- Defiant to the End: In his last days, one of his friends was surprised to discover him reading the Bible, as he'd always had disdain for religion. Fields replied that he was looking for loopholes.
- Dueling-Stars Movie: W.C. Fields and Mae West were co-stars in My Little Chickadee (1941).
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: He was a very dirty comic trapped in an era that didn't allow it to be put onscreen (much like Mae West, only she did find a way around this). But he did sneak the occasional joke past, like the several times in The Bank Dick where we see the titular dick entering a bar called The Black Pussy.
- Ironic Death: The actor died on the day he hated the most: Christmas Day.
- Never Work with Children or Animals: Attributed to him.
- Removable Steering Wheel: In The Bank Dick, when asked by the thug in the back seat to give him the wheel, Egbert Souse (Fields) matter-of-factly pulled it off the steering column and gave it to him. This sequence paid homage to the Mack Sennett/Keystone Kops and Hal Roach/Our Gang comedies of the 1920s and 1930s. Model T Fords were generally used for these comic chases.
- Running Gag: Perhaps the most famous ever: Whenever his character goes outside or inside in The Fatal Glass Of Beer, which takes place during a snowstorm in Alaska, he pauses in the door and says with great pathos: "And it ain't a fit night out ... for man nor beast." And EVERY TIME he gets a bucket of snow thrown in his face.
- Smoking Is Cool: In The Bank Dick, after being incorrectly identified as a hero in his small town, Fields entertains some kids with some cigarette tricks. He sends them off, saying "I'll teach you when you're older! Didn't take it up myself 'til I was nine..."
- The Trickster
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
- Would Hurt a Child: He kicks an infant in the film It's a Gift.