This week on An Alan Smithee Podcast, the great W.C. Fields makes a grand return and Leonardo DiCaprio does some dopey navel gazing.
The Bank Dick like many Fields pictures is the story of a man who never meant anyone a bit of harm, whom the whole world has conspired against to keep from his next drink. With the sudden opportunity to be mistaken for a hero, he takes it. With the sudden opportunity to better himself and his family, he wastes it. With some good production value from Universal, there’s a little more traditional plotting happening than at Paramount Pictures in 1934 (the place of his last film we saw, It’s A Gift) but Field’s fractured, unique approach to funny screenwriting is perfect onto himself: never before has one man been so besieged by everyday life and taken it so laconically.
As if he needed it, Fields is joined by an excellent supporting cast of comic supporting actors like Preston Sturges regular Franklin Pangborn as J. Pinkerton Snoopington, baby faced Grady Sutton as Og Oggilby, chorus girl Una Merkel and spinster Cora Witherspoon as Agatha and Myrtle Souse, and America’s least favorite stooge, Shemp Howard as Fields’ faithful bartender.
From 1997 to 2000, Leonardo DiCaprio was the biggest movie star in the world thanks to a little sleeper called Titanic and every 12 year old girl who saw it 12 times each. By not starring in any movies during that period, he rode a rising tide of expectations for his next role as one in a series of many great roles to come. Then he starred in The Beach, a completely pointless exercise in Thai island cinematography. As an aimless jerk, DiCaprio travels to a secret island that’s an exclusive club apparently for underwear models, where everyone can party all day and all night and look fabulous. How boring is the dark secret behind this seeming paradise? More boring than you can possibly imagine, and not even really a secret. There’s actually sharks in the water, and that’s not even the dark secret. What dark secret is about to harsh Leo’s mellow buzz?
If this hipster porn came out today it’d be a huge hit, and would still suck.
NEXT WEEK: SLAP SHOT (1977, GEORGE ROY HILL) & CRUISING (1980, WILLIAM FRIEDKIN)