W.C. Fields

W.C. Fields

  • Highest Rated: 100% Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)
  • Lowest Rated: 67% Alice in Wonderland (1933)
  • Birthday: Invalid date
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • A Charles Dickens character come to life, American comedian W. C. Fields (born William Claude Dukenfield) ran away from home at age 11. Continuous exposure to cold weather gave his voice its distinctive hoarse timbre, while constant fights with bigger kids gave Fields his trademarked red, battered nose. Perfecting his skills as a juggler until his fingers bled, Fields became a vaudeville headliner before the age of 21, traveling the world with his pantomimed comedy juggling act. After making his Broadway debut in the musical comedy The Ham Tree (1906), "W.C. Fields -- Tramp Juggler," as he then billed himself, achieved the pinnacle of stage stardom by signing on with impresario Flo Ziegfeld. Somewhere along the line the comedian decided to speak on stage, to the everlasting gratitude of Fields fans everywhere. Though his flowery, pompous comic dialogue would seem to have been indispensable, Fields did rather well in silent films (the first was the 1915 one-reeler Pool Sharks) thanks to his keen juggler's dexterity. In 1923, Fields took Broadway by storm with a part specially written for him in the musical Poppy. As larcenous snake-oil peddler Eustace McGargle, the comedian cemented his familiar stage and screen persona as Confidence Man Supreme. Poppy was filmed as Sally of the Sawdust by director D.W. Griffith in 1925; incredible as it may seem, Fields was not the first choice for the film, but once ensconced in celluloid (to use a Fields-like turn of phrase), he became a favorite of small-town and rural movie fans -- even though it was those very fans who were often the targets of Field's brand of social satire. From 1930 through 1934, Fields appeared in talking feature films and short subjects, truly hitting his stride in It's a Gift (1934), which contained his famous "sleeping on the back porch" stage sketch. By this time, audiences responded to his characterization of the bemused, beleaguered everyman, attacked from all sides by nagging wives, bratty children, noisy neighbors and pesky strangers. His film characters also embraced his offstage adoration of alcoholic beverages (Fields was one of the more conspicuous and prolific drinkers of his time). In private life, Fields was perhaps Hollywood's most enigmatic personality. He was simultaneously an inveterate ad-libber and improviser who meticulously prepared his ad-libs and improvisations on paper ahead of time; a frequently nasty, obstinate man who was surrounded by a strong core of loyal and lasting friends. Beloved by most of his fellow actors, W.C. Fields was a man who often showed up late and hung over on the film set, but who never missed a performance and finished all his films on schedule and under budget. Though most fans prefer Fields' freewheeling starring comedies, which he wrote under such colorful pseudonyms as "Otis J. Criblecoblis" and "Mahatma Kane Jeeves," he also shone in at least one prestige picture, MGM's David Copperfield (directed by George Cukor, wherein Fields portrayed Mr. Micawber. A serious illness curtailed Fields' film work in 1936, but he made a comeback trading insults with ventriloquist's dummy Charlie McCarthy on radio in 1938. Fields' final films for Universal are a mixed bag; teaming with Mae West in My Little Chickadee (1940), was more surreal than funny, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) makes very little sense, but The Bank Dick (1940), starring Fields as Egbert Souse is an unadulterated classic. Too ill to contribute anything but guest appearances in his final films, W. C. Fields died at age 67 on the one holiday he claimed he despised: Christmas Day.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

Movies

Rating

Title

Credit

Box
Office

Year

No Score Yet The Great Man W.C. Fields Actor 2005
No Score Yet Hidden Hollywood, Vol. 2: More Treasures From the 20th Century Fox Vaults Actor 2000
No Score Yet W.C. Fields: On Stage, on Screen, on the Air Actor 1998
No Score Yet Slapstick, Too! Actor 1998
No Score Yet W.C. Fields Straight Up Actor 1986
No Score Yet That's Entertainment, Part 2 Actor 1976
No Score Yet Down Memory Lane Actor 1949
No Score Yet Sensations of 1945 Himself 1944
No Score Yet Follow the Boys Himself - Guest Star 1944
No Score Yet Song of the Open Road Himself 1944
No Score Yet Tales of Manhattan (in restored episode) (uncredited) 1942
100% Never Give a Sucker an Even Break The Great Man 1941
91% My Little Chickadee Cuthbert J. Twillie Screenwriter 1940
100% The Bank Dick Egbert Sousé Screenwriter 1940
No Score Yet You Can't Cheat an Honest Man Screenwriter Larson E. Whipsnade 1939
No Score Yet The Big Broadcast of 1938 T. Frothingill Bellows/S.B. Bellows 1937
No Score Yet Poppy Prof. Eustace McGargle 1936
No Score Yet David Copperfield (The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, & Observation of David Copperfield the Younger) Mr. Wilkins Micawber 1935
No Score Yet Man on the Flying Trapeze Ambrose Wolfinger 1935
No Score Yet Mississippi Commodore Jackson 1935
100% It's a Gift Screenwriter 1934
No Score Yet The Old Fashioned Way Great McGonigle 1934
No Score Yet Six of a Kind Sheriff `Honest John' Hoxley 1934
No Score Yet You're Telling Me Sam Bisbee 1934
No Score Yet Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch Mr. C. Ellsworth Stubbins 1934
67% Alice in Wonderland Humpty Dumpty 1933
No Score Yet Tillie and Gus Augustus Winterbottom 1933
No Score Yet The Barber Shop Actor 1933
100% The Pharmacist Actor 1933
No Score Yet The Fatal Glass of Beer Mr. Snavely Screenwriter 1933
No Score Yet International House Professor Henry R. Quail 1933
100% The Dentist Dentist Screenwriter 1932
No Score Yet W.C. Fields Actor 1932
No Score Yet Million Dollar Legs President of Klopstokia 1932
No Score Yet If I Had a Million Rollo La Rue 1932
No Score Yet Her Majesty, Love Bela Toerrek - Lia's Father 1931
No Score Yet Golf Specialist Screenwriter J. Effingham Bellweather 1930
No Score Yet A Flask of Fields Actor 1930
No Score Yet Running Wild Elmer Finch 1927
No Score Yet So's Your Old Man Samuel Bisbee 1926
No Score Yet It's the Old Army Game Eimer Prettywillie 1926
82% Sally of the Sawdust Professor Eustance McGargle 1925
No Score Yet Janice Meredith British Sergeant 1924
No Score Yet Pool Sharks Screenwriter The Pool Shark 1915

QUOTES FROM W.C. Fields CHARACTERS

Professor Henry R. Quail
What is WuHu doing wheer Kansas City ought to be?
Hotel Manager
Maybe you're lost.
Professor Henry R. Quail
Kansas City is lost. I am here.
Cuthbert J. Twillie
If you're ever up in the Grampian Hills, you must come up and see me sometime.
Flower Belle Lee
Oh, yeah, yeah...ill do that, My Little Chickadee!
Prof. Eustace P. McGargle
Never give a sucker an even break.
Cuthbert J. Twillie
Will you take me?
Flower Belle Lee
I'll take you -- and how.
Cuthbert J. Twillie
Will you take me?
Flower Belle Lee
I'll take you -- and how.