W. C. Fields

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You’re Telling Me is a 1934 W.C. Fields comedy. It’s one of his lesser known films but one of the most enjoyable.

In this film Fields plays Sam Busbee, an inventor and hen-pecked husband from the wrong side of the railroad tracks. His daughter is engaged to the son of a society family but will be disinherited if they marry, due to Sam’s uncouth ways. Thanks to the intervention and friendship of a visiting Princess, Sam is made a hero of the town and his daughter can marry, whilst  high-society are exposed as just as big buffoons as the rest of us.

Fields of course gets in a lot of good lines, but it is his physical comedy that is most impressive here. Before becoming a comedian Fields was a renowned juggler, a skill that he uses in this film in a very subtle way. He also proves that he can do slapstick and pantomime as well as Chaplin or Harpo and he has a very rhythmic almost ballet-like type of movement. (I hope this makes sense!) Much of this physicality would sadly disappear in future films due to Fields alcoholism.

Another surprising element that this film has is the dramatic scenes in which Fields contemplates suicide. He elicits some great empathy from the audience and is simply terrific.

The highlight of the film comes at the end, when Fields participates in a golf match. This allows him to reprise a routine that he had earlier performed in a short film called The Golf Specialist.