blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Dentist (1932, Leslie Pearce)

The first third of The Dentist takes place on a golf course, without establishing W.C. Fields is a dentist. He talks about having to get back to his office, but it’s not clear. It doesn’t matter, as Fields being a belligerent golf jerk is funny.

When it does get to the dental practice, Fields’s first patient is Dorothy Granger and it quickly becomes clear the short’s pre-code. Granger’s in one constantly compromised position or another. The next patient, played by Elise Cavanna, is less blatant… but just as creatively contorted. Fields remains somewhat oblivious, at least once he starts getting annoyed, and it works rather well.

The absurdism comes in with the final patient. The patient’s got birds living in his enormous beard, which leads Fields to shoot.

The Dentist has a brisk pace. While it’s never raucous, it’s always amusing, often rather funny. Fields does a fantastic job.

3/3Highly Recommended


Directed by Leslie Pearce; written by W.C. Fields; director of photography, John W. Boyle; produced by Mack Sennett; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring W.C. Fields (Dentist), Marjorie Kane (Mary), Arnold Gray (Arthur the Iceman), Dorothy Granger (Miss Peppitone), Elise Cavanna (Miss Mason), Zedna Farley (Dental Assistant) and Billy Bletcher (Mr. Foliage).


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