The Dentist (1932)
Director: Leslie Pearce
Cast: W.C. Fields, Marjorie Kane, Arnold Gray
Synopsis: An unconventional dentist deals with patients in slapstick fashion.
The Dentist is the short in which, by having a female patient wrap her legs around his waist as he extracts her tooth, W. C. Fields rips off a shot from a popular stag movie of the day. A year later, such a scene would have been rejected out of hand by the Hays Production Code, but this was before the code had grown teeth (if you’ll pardon the pun), and films like this were one of the reasons it grew them. Another scene has a shapely patient (Dorothy Granger) bending from the waist in front of Fields and presenting her derriere to him as she indicates where a little dog bit her on the ankle. “Lucky for you it wasn’t a Newfoundland” mutters Fields with characteristic aplomb.
The movie follows Fields from his home to the golf course to the dental surgery, and is packed with funny one-liners and sight gags. His frustration on the golf course will strike a chord with any amateur golfer whose ambitions are greater than their skills, and his cavalier use of the drill will send a shiver down the spine of those who live in fear of the dentist. Even if you’re not a fan of Fields, this is worth catching for an insight into how Hollywood was edging closer to more risque material before Will Hay put his foot down. We can only wonder what might have been had he not been so successful…
By the way, if you like women keep an eye out for the dental nurse (Zedna Farley), a real beauty whose only film this was.
(Reviewed 1st September 2005)