The great W. C. Fields may have resented being buttoned up, but he had little choice in the silent film era. Without being able to show off his gift for gab, the comedian had to rely on his vaudeville-honed physical gifts, which were also prodigious.
For a rare opportunity to catch some of Fields' pre-talkie movie work, drop in to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Bruno Walter Auditorium (111 Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Sts.) Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 2:30pm. The latest program in the film series It's a Gift: W. C. Fields in the Movies will begin with the 1915 comedy short Pool Sharks, and continue with the 1926 feature So's Your Old Man, in which Fields plays an inventor whose break-proof glass demonstration is foiled by a comic crack-up. Accompanist Ben Model will play for both films, and as a special treat, the comedian's granddaughter Dr. Harriet A. Fields will be on hand to introduce the program. Admission is free.
The film series is presented in conjunction with the exhibition The Peregrinations and Pettifoggery of W. C. Fields, on display through August 21, 2010 in the Vincent Astor Gallery of the Library for the Performing Arts. The exhibition, which was organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, features posters, photographs, correspondence, and a trove of memorabilia from the Fields family, along with film clips and audio recordings.
Meanwhile, It's a Gift: W. C. Fields in the Movies continues in the Bruno Walter Auditorium every Tuesday at 2:30pm through July 6, 2010. The programs are as follows: Tuesday, June 15, Running Wild (1927) preceded by the 1930 short The Golf Specialist; Tuesday, June 22, You're Telling Me (1934), preceded by The Dentist (1932); Tuesday, June 29, It's a Gift (1934); and Tuesday, July 6, The Bank Dick (1940), preceded by The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933). The series was programmed by Steve Massa of the Billy Rose Theatre Division and David Callahan of the Reserve Film and Video Collection. For more information about the film programs, call 212-870-1700. And for more information about W. C. Fields, visit www.wcfields.com.