The Dentist

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Directors: W. C. Fields & Leslie Pearce
Writer: W. C. Fields

  • W. C. Fields — the Dentist
  • Marjorie Kane — daughter
  • Arnold Gray — Arthur the ice man
  • Dorothy Granger — patient
  • Elise Cavanna — patient
  • Zedna Farley — dental assistant
  • Bud Jamison — golfing friend

Mack Sennett Comedies: 1932
black & white; 21 minutes

May 2008


The Dentist is well provided with plot as well as slapstick action in this fine short comedy, based on a live-stage sketch that W. C. Fields wrote in 1919 and revised in 1928. The dentist has difficulties with his daughter about her boyfriend the ice man, and then with trying to manage a big block of ice in his kitchen by himself. But even banished upstairs the daughter continues to be a distraction —

Fields slips away from his dentist's practice to play a round of golf with his friends, with the golf hazards that loom for Everyman-golfer descending thickly on Fields' game, bluffly met by the skills and scoring that Everyman wishes he could get away with. (Fields slices this on a different tangent in The Golf Specialist.)

Dentistry is not especially humorous for its victim-beneficiaries, but that's the incongruity which Fields exploits so well. As for the dental patients themselves: a couple of fellows are amusing, but if Hollywood was fully censorious in 1932, it would have choked fatally on the scenes with the two women patients. Dorothy Granger is a suggestively flirtatious challenge to the dentist's work.

Elise Cavanna is (if we may say so) an erotic wrestling challenge to the dentist. Much of the viewing public didn't get to see this in theater release, although in the fullness of time it proves the most distinctive footage. Or distinctive leggage. In fact, Elise Cavanna almost steals the show in her deservedly memorable scene, surely never easy with W. C. Fields in the same room.

Very funny.


© 2008 Robert Wilfred Franson

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