The Golf Specialist

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Director: Monte Brice
Writer: W. C. Fields

  • W. C. Fields — J. Effingham Bellweather
  • Naomi Casey — little girl
  • John Dunsmuir — house detective
  • Shirley Grey — house detective's wife
  • Johnnie Kane — desk clerk
  • Al Wood — caddy

RKO: 1930
black & white; 21 minutes

June 2008


The Golf Specialist is W. C. Fields' first talking movie, and golf was a good choice for its subject. The game was one of Fields' best-known and always funny specialties for vaudeville and screen. This two-reeler is based on "An Episode at the Links" that he wrote and acted in for the Ziegfeld Follies in 1918.

We only have two basic sequences in the film: some hijinks in a Palm Beach hotel lobby (not in the Follies), followed by a lesson on the hotel's golf course. W. C. Fields as J. Effingham Bellweather has a colorful past, but here he seizes the opportunity to teach the basics of golf to the hotel flirt, accompanied by a monumentally distracting caddy. What were interpersonal confusion and missed connections in the hotel lobby are recapitulated as golfer's confusion and misses out on the links, Fields doggedly attempting to both teach and play through.

An exercise for the viewer, best attempted on a re-viewing: see if you can count how many times Fields hits a golf ball.

The Golf Specialist is simply and classically funny on the swing and on the follow-through.


© 2008 Robert Wilfred Franson

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