The Old-Fashioned Way

  • 1934
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy

The great W.C. Fields romps again in THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY, this time as an impoverished, but pompous, manager of a group of hammy actors. As the film opens, a sheriff shares a train platform with the acting troupe, which is about to depart to another staging of that weary vehicle "The Drunkard." The sheriff waits with a summons for Fields, charging him...read more

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The great W.C. Fields romps again in THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY, this time as an impoverished, but pompous, manager of a group of hammy actors. As the film opens, a sheriff shares a train platform with the acting troupe, which is about to depart to another staging of that weary vehicle "The

Drunkard." The sheriff waits with a summons for Fields, charging him with bad debts. But Fields, approaching from behind the lawman, spots the summons and lights it with a match, then steps in front of the sheriff. With a sinister grin, the sheriff announces to Fields, "I have something for

you!"--and whips forth his now-blazing summons, which Fields uses to light his cigar (thanking the sheriff) before boarding the train with his troupe, leaving his victim nonplussed on the platform. This scene sets the stage and mood for the rest of the gaslight-era story, in which Fields is always

one step ahead of local sheriffs, all of them trying to get the impresario to pay the bills he has piled up over the decades and across the country. Fields must also contend with his daughter, Judith Allen, and her romance with a singer, Joe Morrison, while fending off his eternal nemesis, Baby

LeRoy. A particular delight is one segment in which Fields displays his formidable juggling skills, manipulating twelve cigar boxes, four balls, and a stick, in a routine that also strategically incorporates "mistakes." Behind the scenes, Fields also stoked his publicity-generating "feud" with

Baby LeRoy, posting complaints at Paramount about the toddler, one of which read, "I am mad at Baby LeRoyoff. Baby LeRoyoff has libeled me. He says I stole his bottle. Baby LeRoyoff is all wet. Baby LeRoyoff is a menace; he steals scenes." (Ronald J. Fields, W.C. Fields: A Life on Film, New York,

St. Martin's Press, 1984, p. 147). The precocious child star actually tweaks Fields' huge nose in one scene, an unscripted act to which Fields, much to the surprise of the cast and crew, reacted with merely a wry smile.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The great W.C. Fields romps again in THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY, this time as an impoverished, but pompous, manager of a group of hammy actors. As the film opens, a sheriff shares a train platform with the acting troupe, which is about to depart to another stag… (more)

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