The Bank Dick (1940)

"The Bank Dick" is the slapstick version of "The Big Lebowski". If there was ever a character who is twice as unfortunate as TheDude—yet somehow fortunate by blindly walking into circumstances, it would be Egbert Sousè from "The Bank Dick". He's a man who has no clue what is going on—yet when faced with opportune moments, he seizes them with lies and exaggerations.
This is a movie, that if scrutinized, would lead to some pretty iffy philosophies—violence is justifiable, abuse is okay, liars always win, etc—but to analyze "The Bank Dick" would just be ridiculous because it's not a fine art simply wants to make you laugh.
Egbert Sousè is a man with a wife and two daughters. He is shunned by his spouse and his mother-in-law for smoking and drinking too much. To be fair, he is kind of a bum...then again, they aren't the most supportive of families.
The first tidbits of humor surprise you with their calm violence. Egbert comes downstairs from his room to overhear the women complaining about his smoking habit, he notices the cigarette in his mouth and quickly swallows it...and somehow doesn't die...these are the jokes, folks.
Egbert takes a newspaper from his young daughter who kicks him in the skin for it. In retaliation he punches her in the face, to which she hurls a wine bottle at the back of his head as he walks out of the house. So he comes back in with a huge urn, ready to smash the crap out of her but gets stopped by his wife.
Yes, shame on me, I laughed.
Then outside, he notices a man is having trouble with his car, so he stops and tries to help, accidentally knocking all the tools inside the inter-workings of the car. Then he loosens one wrong bolt and the engine falls out of the bottom of the car.
Everywhere Egbert goes, there is a line of destruction following him; but somehow sheer dumb luck finds him as well.
While out drinking at the local pub, Egbert stumbles onto a movie producer who is looking for a new director. He volunteers his own name and soon is directing the movie, but walks off the set drunkenly. Then he accidentally apprehends bank robbers and gets proclaimed a hero...which, naturally, doesn't impress his family.
The bank gives him the job as "the bank dick" which is the armed officer. This, of course, leads to many more laughs and accidental faux pas. Still, he is naive enough to be conned out of five hundred dollars, yet the money comes from his daughter's fiancee because he is also a man of retelling.
Now the bank inspector arrives and they have to distract him for four days which leads to much poisoning and induced vomiting.
Shame of me again, I laughed.
"The Bank Dick" is laugh-out-loud funny. As Egbert, W. C. Fields is just hilarious. He overplays and underplays but always in the right way.
There are chase scenes and some pretty nice stunts--nothing to compare with the silent comedy epics but still fun.
It's completely and totally entertaining.

Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4

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