The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy, Reunion Films  |   Release Date - Mar 3, 1933 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 18 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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A send-up of temperence dramas -- a genre for which you know W. C. Fields felt not an ounce of sympathy -- and Northern adventure stories, this W. C. Fields short is one of the stranger, more surreal movies in the comic legend's output (and that's going some, to which anyone familiar with Never Give A Sucker An Even Break can attest). Practically every shot and line is a comedic barb, aimed at the melodramatic sensibilities of the audiences of the time -- and the presence of gawky George Chandler as the wastrel son only adds to the level of absurdity being bounced around the tiny cabin and the 18-minute confines of this picture. It probably helped in appreciating it for one to have come out of the era in which it was made, but the passage of seven decades has only added to the surreal nature of the comedy, all aimed at puncturing a lot of overblown dramatic and philosophical notions of its era. By its description, it might seem like little more than a comedic sketch with a few extra flourishes, but in many ways -- along with The Dentist -- The Fatal Glass of Beer was Fields at his most "out there" and uninhibited. And he is the dominant personality here, even if Clyde Bruckman -- a veteran gagman who worked for another two decades, recycling a lot of the same jokes and gimmicks -- was the director. Fields was not only the star but -- big surprise -- co-authored the screenplay as well.