Season Of That Legend W C Fields

12th November 1971, Season Of That Legend W C Fields ‘Kensington Post’ page 6

W. C. FIELDS died on Christmas Day 25 years ago this year – a piece of timing of which he would undoubtedly have approved.

Off-screen and on, he was a legend: the vaudeville star who embarked on a Hollywood career at the age of 50 and ad-libbed his way through some of the most outrageous comedies.

Fields was full obsessions, fears, suspicions and prejudices which were reflected in his films. It may be this constant working out of his own personality into crazy comedy which explains his increasing popularity over the years.

His uncertain, anti-social, non-conformist behaviour reflects modern times even more than the period in which he lived. Posterity remembers Fields rather as a great entertainer than as a mentally tormented man who found his only consolation in drink.

As he said of himself: “Any man who hates small dogs and children can’t be all bad.”

This week, the Electric Cinema Club, Portobello Road, launches a season of Fields’ comedies to mark the 25th anniversary of his death.

Films in the line-up, which lasts until December 11, include POPPY (1936), THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY (1934), THE BANK DICK (1940), THE MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE (1935), NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (1941) and MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH (1934).

This week’s choices are THE POPPY (Sunday at 5 and 11, Monday at 7) and THE OLD FASHIONED WAY (Wednesday at 7 and Thursday at 11, November 17 and 18).

THE POPPY was one of Fields’ most successful stage productions.

THE OLD FASHIONED WAY packs in a representative selection of Field’s variety and stage routines, including, as a special treat, a full-length, unedited sequence which displays his juggling skill.