W.C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield)
Last Update: 12-Nov-1995 (Added one-sheet)


"How d'ya spell 'kumquat'?"
Fields in "It's a Gift," wrapping a pack of gum for Mr. Muckle
(See the one-sheet for "It's a Gift" at the end of this page.)

W.C. Fields was one of the best comedians of all time, and a pretty damned good juggler to boot. Over time and as part of my ongoing search for his work, I've collected a lot of information about Fields and his films, both important and random. Here's some of it.

If you haven't watched much of Fields, I'd suggest finding and renting "It's a Gift." Watch for the point where Fields goes outside on the porch to sleep. Pause the tape and get yourself a sammich and a root beer, then scrunch into that comfy chair. The following ten or fifteen minutes are golden.

A W.C. Fields Filmography
Notes on Some of the Films
Miscellanea
A W.C. Fields Roster

A W.C. Fields Filmography
In Chronological Order

Year    Tape   Film or Short Title                      Notes

Silent films:

1915     X     Pool Sharks                              Short; exists
1915           His Lordship's Dilemma                   Short; no known print
1924           Janice Meredith                          Fragments exist
1925     X     Sally of the Sawdust                     Exists
1926           That Royle Girl                          No known print
1926           It's the Old Army Game                   Fragments exist
1926           So's Your Old Man                        May still exist
1927           The Potters                              No known print
1927     X     Running Wild                             Exists
1927           Two Flaming Youths                       Status unknown
1928           Tillie's Punctured Romance               Status unknown
1928           Fools for Luck                           Status unknown

Sound films:

1930     X     The Golf Specialist                      Short; first sound
1931           Her Majesty, Love                        May still exist
1932     X     Million Dollar Legs
1932     X     If I Had a Million
1932     X     The Dentist                              Short
1932     X     The Fatal Glass of Beer                  Short
1933     X     The Pharmacist                           Short
1933     X     The Barber Shop                          Short
1933           Hip Action                               Short; cameo as golfer
1933     X     International House
1933     X     Tillie and Gus                           Remake of Tillie's...
1933     X     Alice in Wonderland                      Cameo as Humpty Dumpty
1934     X     Six of a Kind
1934     X     You're Telling Me
1934     X     The Old Fashioned Way
1934     X     Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch          In only two reels
1934     X     It's a Gift                              Remake of It's the...
1935     X     David Copperfield                        Cameo as Mr. Micawber
1935     X     Mississippi
1935     X     Man on the Flying Trapeze
1936     X     Poppy                                    Remake of Sally of...
1938     X     The Big Broadcast of 1938                Cameos throughout
1939     X     You Can't Cheat an Honest Man
1940     X     My Little Chickadee
1940     X     The Bank Dick
1941     X     Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
1942           Tales of Manhattan                       Cameo cut pre-release
1944           Follow the Boys                          Cameo as himself
1944     X     Song of the Open Road                    Cameo as himself
1945           Sensations of 1945                       Cameo as himself

Notes on Some of the Films

His Lordship's Dilemma: A lost, one-reel short made by William Haddock, an Edison director. Fields played a remittance man. Ads for the movie show fields swinging a golf club.

Janice Meredith: No complete prints are known to survive. Reviews report that Fields did comedy scenes as a drunken British sergeant.

That Royle Girl: One of few D.W. Griffith films totally missing.

It's the Old Army Game: Only fragments survive. Consisted of older Fields stage skits. All were repeated and improved in later films.

So's Your Old Man: Status is unknown. Sixty-seven minutes long. Played inventor of shatterproof auto glass. Remade as You're Telling Me.

The Potters: No known print. Fields buys worthless oil stock. Changed to orange grove for It's a Gift.

Running Wild: Was remade as Man on the Flying Trapeze.

Two Flaming Youths: Status unknown. The best bits in this film are repeated in The Old Fashioned Way and You Can't Cheat an Honest Man. Said to be poorly produced and directed by a ninkompoop.

Tillie's Punctured Romance: Status unknown. Fifty-seven minutes. Also said to be poorly done.

Fools for Luck: Status unknown. Sixty minutes. Last silent film. Same plot as The Potters, but with Fields role reversed to that of the bilker.

Her Majesty, Love: Status unknown, but apparently available. Fields doesn't appear until 25 minutes into the 75-minute film, and plays a supporting role only.

If I Had a Million: Never released in its original form in the United States. Two scenes were cut: A convicted murderer learns of his windfall too late and goes to the electric chair and a prostitute celebrates her $1 million by sleeping alone in a luxury hotel room. These scenes are now restored in some prints seen on television.

Hip Action: This was the third film in a series entitled "How to Break Ninety." They were Bobby Jones golf shorts and Fields appeared in this one as an inept golfer helped by Jones. This was Fields' only guest-star appearance in a short. The entire series of shorts was released in the late '80s as part of a golf instruction course, but the course cost about $200.

You're Telling Me: Was until only recently unavailable because Paramount's rights had expired as they had never reissued it. MCA, the owners of TV rights of all Paramount's post-1929 films, chose not to go through the trouble required to release this and many other Paramount films.

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch: Fields didn't appear until the seventh reel and was in just two reels.

The Big Broadcast of 1938: Fields had short appearances and skits throughout this movie. Constantly in the beginning, fewer towards the end.

Tales of Manhattan: Fields appearance in this film was deleted just prior to release. In it, he lectures at a fund-raising charity function. Thieves steal the money raised and stuff it in a jacket. One of them, forgetting about the money, throws the jacket out of their getaway plane. The money floats all over a poor black town. They divide the money evenly; the tattered jacket is put on a scarecrow. Much Uncle Tom-ism and the people are constantly spouting communist slogans (?!). Fox may still have a print of this two-reel sketch.

Follow the Boys: Fields does his pool table sketch in this film. Patriotic, jingoistic, silly sort of propaganda film. One hour, forty-seven minutes.

Miscellanea

Fields did a total of forty-two films. All are listed on the first page.

Paramount stills exist from It's the Old Army Game, So's Your Old Man, The Potters, Two Flaming Youths, and Tillie's Punctured Romance. A one-sheet exists of His Lordship's Dilemma.

Most of his films from 1926 to 1929 for Paramount on Long Island were about an hour long.

W.C. Fields on Charlie Chaplin: "He's a goddam ballet dancer. I'd like to strangle him with my bare hands."

His tombstone has his name and dates of birth and death. It does not say "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia," as is commonly believed. That was his answer to a reporter who asked him to write his own epitaph.

A W.C. Fields Roster

Fields invented a lot of goofy names, both for his characters and for his own screenwriting credits (he wrote a large number of his films). Bob Elliot of Bob & Ray once told me that he and Ray came up with most of their character names from people they knew, but I think that probably wasn't the case with Fields, as you may agree after perusing these:

Maharajah of Bingo         Algernon Biggleswade       Professor Quail
Ophelia Snapdrop           Sir Marmaduke Gump         Og Oggilby
Death Valley Scotty        Folger E. Bidwell          Abigail Twirlbaffing
Dorothea Fizzdockle        Charles Bogle              J. Pinkerton Snoopington
Aristotle Hoop             Mahatma Kane Jeeves        Senor Guillermo McKinley
Sneed Hearn                High-Card Harrington       Carl La Fong
Cholmondley Frampton-      Marc Antony McGonigle      J. Frothingham Waterbury
  Blythe                   Rheba Goldberg             Bartley Neuville
Figley E. Whitesides       Anastasia Bel-Goodie       Claude Bissinet
Dr. Otis Guelpe            Lita Labetty               Otis Criblecoblis
Chief Big Spear            Bronislaw Gimp             Gus Winterbottom
Little Small Blanket       Ouliotta Hemoglobin        Ambrose Woolfinger
Wilkes Heap                Filthy McNasty             Eustace McGargle
Oooleota Dillwig           Officer Postlewhistle      Hermisilio Brunch
Elmer Bimbo                Cornelius O'Hare           Oglethorpe P. Bushmaster
Colonel Roscoe Slemp       Cozy Cochran               Chester Snavely
Sapadola Sidley-Deasey     Cleopatra Pepperday        A. Pismo Clam
Oliotha Shugg              Countess de Pouisse        Sir Mortimer Fortescue
Olga Limbo                 Egbert Souse               Agatha Sprague
Fuller Ginnis              Cuthbert J. Twillie        Larson E. Whipsnade

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Entire contents © 1995-2003 by Mike Harney. World rights reserved. Steve Allen, this means you.