Pool Sharks (1915, Edwin Middleton)

According to Pool Sharks, the only thing better than getting the girl is getting a free bottle of liquor.

W.C. Fields is at a picnic and courting a young woman–apparently the only single woman there (the actor is sadly uncredited)–and he runs afoul her other suitor, played by Bud Ross.

Fields and Ross engage in food fighting and slapstick fighting before they end up competing in pool. During the pool game, Sharks becomes less a comedy and more an example of good process shots. The pool balls move spectacularly through stop motion.

Sadly, the pool game is also where Middleton and Fields decide to have Fields break the fourth wall to wink at the audience. It’s an ineffective choice and distracting.

While Fields is fine and often funny, the filmmaking overshadows him quite a bit. Even during the finale, it’s in too recent memory.

Still, Shark amuses.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Edwin Middleton; written by W.C. Fields; released by Mutual Film.

Starring W.C. Fields (The Pool Shark) and Bud Ross (His Rival).

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