The Bank Dick
(released as The Bank Detective
in the United Kingdom
) is a 1940 comedy film
in which W. C. Fields
plays a character named Egbert Sousé who trips a bank robber and ends up a security guard
as a result. In addition to bank and family scenes, it features Fields pretending to be a film director and ends in a chaotic car chase. The Bank Dick
is considered a classic of his work, incorporating his usual persona as a drunken henpecked husband with a shrewish wife, disapproving mother-in-law, and savage children.
The film was written by Fields, using the alias Mahatma Kane Jeeves ("My hat, my cane, Jeeves!"), and directed by Edward F. Cline. Shemp Howard, one of the Three Stooges, plays a bartender.
In 1992, The Bank Dick was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
- The family frequently mentions Fields' smoking while upstairs in his room, a fact which he tries to hide. In one scene, Fields comes downstairs and when his family mentions his smoking, he uses a quick movement of his lips to "fold" the still-burning cigarette into his mouth so that he can walk out unmolested.
- Fields says to a capped bottle of whiskey "Take off your hat in the presence of a gentleman."
- Fields entertains a group of children by taking a drag from a cigarette, placing it in his ear, and exhaling multiple puffs of smoke, making it seem as though he is using his ear to inhale the smoke.
- Fields: "Was I in here last night, and did I spend a 20 dollar bill?"
- Shemp: "Yeah!"
- Fields: "Boy, is that a load off my mind. (chuckles) I thought I'd lost it!"
- Upon being introduced to his daughter's beau, Og Oggilby, Egbert Sousé (Fields) remarks, "Og Oggilby...sounds like a bubble in a bathtub."
- Fields incoherently repeats a con-artist's sales pitch for the 'Beefsteak Mine' thus: "Ten cents a share. Telephone sold for five cents a share. How would you like something better for ten cents a share? If five will get you ten, ten will get you twenty. Beautiful home in the country, upstairs and down. Beer flowing through the estate over your grandmother's paisley shawl." By the end of the film, it turns out to be a sound investment after all, his family adores him, he lives a life of luxury and everyone lives happily ever after.