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The Fatal Glass of Beer

This classic 21 minute silent style film but with early sound is available on several bargain price W.C.Fields compilations. It's a Mack Sennett comedy played with the usual dry W.C.Fields delivery.

The son of prospector Pa Snaveley has gone to the big city and fallen in with a bad lot, so that he slips into a life of crime:      

They tempted him to drink

and they said he was a coward:

At last he took the fatal glass of beer…

He'd found what he'd done

he dashed the glass down on the floor,

and he staggered through the door

with delirium tree-mens.

Once upon the sidewalk

He met a Salvation Army girl

and wickedly he broke

her tambourine

Oh she said "Heaven bless you"

And placed a mark upon his brow,

with a kick she'd learned

before she had been saved.

The running gags will have you in stitches and you'll be chiming in with the punch-lines. The wobbly and absurd back-projection is a hoot, too. Listen out for the line "Tastes like cornflakes" about the fake snow! Prodigal son Chester is played by George Chandler and Rosemary Theby is Ma Snaveley. It pre-dates Morecambe and Wise and Monty Python by several decades. If you've thought just of the oft-cited mysogynistic pronouncements of W.C., watch this and marvel at his comic genius.

©RKW  from the Summer 2006 edition of O-to-K