BU Film School

Monday, August 29, 2005

FT 540 Reading: The Bank Dick

Screenplay info
Written by: W.C. Fields
Film info: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0032234
Filmsite.org link: http://www.filmsite.org/bank.html

Egbert is supposedly fishing, but really cooling jug in lake. Talks to Nicodemus (couple of "nevermore" jokes), spooked by paper dragon. He tries to sell sea bass to disgruntled fisherman (who was fishing in the lake). "Sousé, please -- accent grave over the 'e'."

Next morning, Agatha, Mrs. Brunch, Elsie eat Egbert's sea bass. Egbert enters -- had been smoking forbidden cigarettes. No respect from women -- shin-kicks from Elsie, nagging from wife and mother-in-law. Egbert exits front, sees daughter Myrtle with Og, gives them blessing.

Egbert approaches car, screws bolt under engine, front of engine falls out.

Egbert to Black Pussy Cat Grill -- closed, Joe out to breakfast. Waits at bus stop, tries to talk to girl, who gets ride from a boy who just happens to drive up. Her book -- How to Win Friends and Influence People.

At cafe, Egbert hears about moving picture company near his house. Dodds calls boss on phone -- director drunk. Egbert suggests drink. Dodds explains his problem. Egbert: "Ah, now you are yodelling right up my canyon," and professes much experience in movies. He volunteers to help.

Myrtle walks Og to bank. Myrtle: "He's a little odd, all right, but he sort of grows on you." Og sees Egbert and Dodds in car, is impressed, but his fellow clerk isn't.

Egbert, Dodds arrive on location. E. Pismo Clam, director, is "tight as a snare drum". Egbert doesn't bother with script, has ridiculous one of his own -- a circus picture, involving a love story between the bearded lady and a young college football player. Pulls Elsie in as bearded lady's daughter, which finally wakes up Clam. Dodds says to send in the notes on Egbert's script with the day's report.

Egbert passes car -- chauffeur, angry, still working on it.

Egbert at cafe -- Joe out to lunch. Sees girl on bench, tries to talk, again rides off with boy. Same book. Car drives by, splashes mud on him.

Mud-splashing car turns out to be driven by two crooks, who park and enter the bank where Og works. Cops discover car in no parking zone, get into car and start to drive off. Robbers take money, leave, Og sounds alarm. Their car is gone, so they must run. Cops in robbers' car drive up, responding to the bell.

Crooks fight over money. One pursues the other and hits him. The hit crook, who has the money, collapses under Egbert's bench. Oblivious, Egbert just says, "Quiet!" Before the other crook can retrieve the money, he hears the police horn and runs off, tossing away his gun. The gun hits Egbert in the chest, and he goes over backward with a crash.

The cops and Og find Egbert, crook and bench all tangled up. At first surprised, Egbert warms to his role as hero, playing up the threat (thief was brandishing an asagai) and his own preparedness (his trusty pistol). He signs autographs, gives a very embroidered story to reporter. He walks home, once again passing the broken-down car, which now the old lady is working on. Egbert's wife and mother-in-law dismiss his story as empty bragging.

Egbert encounters Myrtle, who'd heard from Og that Skinner, the bank president, wants to offer Egbert a reward. Egbert goes to the bank. On the way, he again passes the broken-up car. The old lady is now extremely angry. Egbert tries to see Skinner by going to the teller window, but customers keep pushing in front of him. Og finally sees Egbert and brings him to Skinner.

Business with Egbert moving around to keep his eye on the steno (girl from the bus bench). Skinner presents him with a calendar and offers him a job as officer (bank dick). Will deduct certain amount from each week's salary toward mortage interest.

Egbert in uniform at cafe. Waterbury tells him about shares in Beefsteak Mines. Egbert says will get money from bank.

Egbert greets people at bank, is paid no attention. Egbert tells Og about shares (severely mangling Waterbury's spiel). Og wants to have more money for Myrtle. Egbert convinces Og to borrow $700 from bank against his bonus, which comes in four days. Egbert confronts mom and boy with toy gun. Montage of money being counted, coins rolled, etc.

Egbert goes to close bank, but Johnson (J. Pinkerton Snoopington) pushes his way in -- will do audit in morning. Og, Myrtle are troubled. "Oh, why does he always have to interfere?"

Egbert takes Johnson to cafe, gets Joe to slip him Mickey Finn. Egbert drags Johnson to hotel, calls Dr. Stall, who comes and prescribes ping-pong balls in caster oil, and a few days rest. Business with Egbert trying to signal four days needed, not just three.

Egbert passes Ritz theater, is told had been picked for $2500 prize but hadn't been there -- got consolation dish set instead. Myrtle confronts Egbert -- won't be any wedding.

Next day at bank. Egbert thinks all is set. Skinner upbraids him about toy gun, cafe. Johnson appears, starts looking at ledgers. Egbert tries to keep him from seeing Og's (turns on fan, splashes ink, etc.). Second crook appears, robs bank using Egbert as shield. Egbert tells Og to put in extra $700. Dodds enters looking for Egbert. Crook recognizes Egbert from bench, takes him out of bank.

Lady's car on curb, abandoned. Crook and Egbert get in, drive off. Chase with them, cops, and Dodds / Og / Skinner. During chase, Dodds reveals has money, contract for Egbert.

Lady's car's motor starts to knock. Egbert, crook get off road by Egbert's. Egbert tosses explosive by mistake, noise alerts cops. Egbert gets crook to go under car, gives nut a twist, engine falls and pinks crook. Cops say Egbert will get $5000 reward for crook (Mopey Murphy). Dodds gives $10,000, offers directing gig. Egbert, taking Nicodemus' advice, declines job.

Egbert now living high on the hog. Elsie, Agatha, Mrs. Brunch treat him like royalty. Og and Myrtle wedding announcement in paper. "Egbert, is it true that married people live longer?" "No, it just seems longer." Stops by cafe -- Joe out for drink. Sees girl on bench -- smiles and approaches, just like before.

My notes
-- has happy ending, through no fault of protagonist
-- absurd visual, verbal gags. running gags (broken-down car, signs at Black Cat cafe)
-- characters have humorous flaws -- exaggerated.
-- playing with language -- extravagant phrasing, accent on e in Souse, non sequiturs
-- shams -- lake, directing, etc.

FT 540 notes (from 06/12/03)
-- dreamer, liar
-- language terribly important -- turns it upside down
-- larger than life
-- physical comedy. W.C. Fields came out of vaudeville.


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