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  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
  • None

The Bank Dick

Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Edward Cline
Starring: W.C. Fields, Cora Witherspoon, Una Merkel, Evelyn Del Rio, Jessie Ralph, Franklin Pangborn, Shemp Howard, Richard Purcell, Grady Sutton, Russell Hicks
1940 | 72 Minutes | Licensor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #78 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: August 15, 2000
Review Date: July 20, 2008

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W.C. Fields stars as an unemployed, henpecked drunk who spends most of his time at the Black Pussy Cat cafť. Things take a turn for the absurd when he unwittingly captures a bank robber and lands a job as a security guard. Written by Fields under the pseudonym Mahatma Kane Jeeves and featuring one of his most hilarious performances, The Bank Dick is an undisputed classic of American comedy. Criterion is proud to present Fields' last major film in a new digital transfer, with English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Forum members rate this film 7.5/10


Discuss the film and DVD here   


When Criterion originally announced the release of two W.C. Fields DVDs I was quite excited only to meet with great disappointment when I finally got them. Talk about two underwhelming DVD releases.

Their first release, The Bank Dick, is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-layered disc. The image is quite disappointing, though vastly superior when compared with their other Fields release, W.C. Fields: 6 Short Films. The print hasnít really been cleaned up, presenting quite a bit of dirt and debris, along with tears, lines, and other marks. The image also looks fairly soft, never looking sharp. Blacks and whites are at least quite strong, and I didnít notice any issues with the contrast.

Universal released this film as part of the first volume of W.C. Fields films and did a much better job on that transfer, cleaning it up quite a bit and presenting a sharper image. Criterionís transfer looks tacked on with little effort put into it. Very disappointing.


All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Audio is okay, presenting the film with a remastered Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track. Dialogue sounds decent, while music sounds a little edgy. The track has a little bit of noise in the background but not much. Itís pretty generic but it sounds okay.



Itís odd that Criterion would actually work to gain the license to the film from Universal but then not do much with it. There are no supplements to speak of other than an insert with an essay by Dennis Perrin giving a brief history of the film and its production. Iíve always found Fields a rather fascinating comic performer and Iím beyond disappointed they didnít use this release to examine the man in any way.



The disc has been discontinued after Universal released a couple of box sets of Fieldsí films, one of them containing The Bank Dick. If you want the film I wouldnít bother searching for the Criterion release, instead I would say without hesitation to go with the Universal set. You can find it fairly cheap and it contains a much sharper image transfer. While it also doesnít have supplements, it at least comes with more of Fieldsí films. This release from Criterion is a huge missed opportunity and feels like it was thought up at the last minute (even the cover art looks ďlast-minuteĒ.) Terrible.

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