The Story (continued)
The Bank Dick (1940)
At the bank before he goes on duty, Egbert repeats a jumbled version of Waterbury's promises to his gullible, dense future son-in-law, bank clerk Og Oggilby, and encourages him to make a risky investment. According to Egbert's fanciful hope, he (and/or Og) will be able to afford to live in a big country place with beer flowing through the estate - over his grandmother's paisley shawl. He has to get the cash to close the deal - and what better place than from someone who works in the bank:
Egbert: I met a poor fellow who's in trouble. Something the matter with his grandmother's paisley shawl. He has 5,000 shares in the Beefsteak Mine and you can buy them for a handful of hay.
Og: Hay? And they're worth..?
Egbert: Ten cents a share. Telephone sold for five cents a share. How would you like something better for ten cents a share? If five gets ya ten, ten'll get ya twenty. A beautiful home in the country, upstairs and down. Beer flowing through the estate over your grandmother's paisley shawl.
Egbert: Beer! Fishing in the stream that runs under the aboreal dell. A man comes up from the bar, dumps $3,500 in your lap for every nickel invested. Says to you, 'Sign here on the dotted line.' And then disappears in the weaving fields of alfalfa.
Og: Gosh! Do you think he was telling the truth?
Egbert: You don't think a man would resort to terra-diddle, do you? Why, he sounded like a child at the very thought of disposing of these shares. How does the bank make its money?
Og: By investing.
Egbert: That's the point. You don't want to work all your life. Take a chance. Take it while you're young.
To convince him and speaking with the voice of experience, Sousè relates the story of his Uncle Effingham Hoofnagle, who was also faced with a decision and took a chance, acting without hesitation. He was drifting three and a half miles up in the air and took a chance - he jumped out of the basket of the balloon and tried to land in a load of hay. Og asks if he made it. Sousè must reluctantly admit that his uncle perished in the attempt:
Egbert: My uncle, a balloon ascensionist, Effingham Hoofnagle, took a chance. He was three miles and a half up in the air. He jumped out of the basket of the balloon and took a chance of landing on a load of hay.
Og: Golly! Did he make it?
Egbert: Uh, no...He didn't. Had he been a younger man, he probably would have made it. That's the point. Don't wait too long in life.
Sousè realizes that he has a marriageable daughter engaged to a poor bank clerk - and they cannot marry on Og's present salary, but maybe if the stock gamble is successful, Og will take Myrtle off his hands. He imposes on Og and convinces him to temporarily borrow - not steal - the bank's money. Og proposes his $500 bonus coming due in four days to immediately make the risky investment and buy stock in the gold mine:
Og: I've never done anything like this. And another thing, I haven't got the money. Of course, my bonus comes due in four days. That's $500. I could buy 'em then, and then with all that money, why, I really might be worthy of your daughter's hand.
Egbert: Women really appreciate the fine things in life. You don't wanna die and leave your wife and children paupers, do ya?
Egbert: Borrow the $500 from the bank. You intend to pay it back when your bonus comes due, don't ya?
Og: Well, sure.
Egbert: Surely, don't be a luddie-duddie, don't be a moon-calf, don't be a jabbernow, you're not those, are you?
On his first few minutes as a vigilant bank dick, Sousè is seriously conscious of his responsibilities, so much so that he chokes a young boy in a cowboy outfit waving a toy gun - believing that he is a holdup man. He asks: "Is that gun loaded?" "Certainly not," says the boy's mother, "but I think you are." As she walks her son out of the bank, the bratty boy ridicules the guard's shiny, bulbous red nose: "Mommy, doesn't that man have a funny nose?" His mother chides him for making fun:
You mustn't make fun of the gentleman, Clifford. You'd like to have a nose like that full of nickels, wouldn't you?
The exchange of money and shares is made at the bank at the appointed time. Just then, prissy, incorruptible, effeminate bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington (Franklin Pangborn) unexpectedly arrives to check the bank ledgers. At the beginning of a long and elaborate charade, Sousè is able to get Snoopington out of the bank to protect Og. But there are four more days that Snoopington must be delayed in checking the books.
At Sousè's house, everyone is working on a crossword puzzle, looking for a six letter word that means embezzlement - prison. Og, upset over the transaction and the possibility that he will get caught, arrives to call off his engagement to Myrtle and to confess his illegal use of bank funds for an unwise investment with Egbert.
In a memorable sequence, Egbert walks with the Snoopington on the streets of Lompoc for a town tour. Egbert generously offers to persuade a store proprietor to weigh Snoopington for free. In their conversation, Sousè describes his own family (and his lecherous nature) in glowing terms:
I'm very fond of children. Girl children, around 18, 20. I have a young daughter, marriageable age, also small daughter. Nice wife, and a mother-in-law that loves me like her own son.
He leads the virtuous examiner, not quite by accident, into his favorite bar, intending to get Snoopington drunk with a "constitutional," but Snoopington insists he doesn't drink during business hours. Against his better judgment, the bank examiner agrees to enter, and asks to sit somewhere in the bar where they won't be seen. He requests that the window shade be pulled down. Sousè agrees: "You can pull anything you want to. It's a regular joint." He hints to Joe, the cafe's bartender:
Has, uh, Michael Finn been in here today?
Joe serves Snoopington a drink with a poisonous spike in it, making him feel deathly ill and nauseous. Sousè then takes the drugged bank examiner a six block walk to his hotel, the New Old Lompoc House on the Avenue, adding: "We pass the Spanish Americo Chili Parlor on the way up." On the way, he suggests the cause of Snoopington's illness:
Maybe you've eaten an oyster, and it must've had an oar in it.
As they enter the lobby of the hotel, Sousè asks that Snoopington pull himself together, because the hotel is a respectable place: "Equilibrium's the thing." After explaining it's a case of "ptomaine poisoning" to the manager, he succeeds in getting the tipsy Snoopington upstairs, but then is seen rushing down the stairs in a tizzy, sprinting out to the street. He leads a dazed and dusty Snoopington back into the lobby a second time. (Off screen, the examiner has fallen out the second-story window of the hotel.) He must explain that he is not leading a different drunk in but the same person: "A friend of mine caught him on the first bounce."
Sousè calls on Doctor Stall (Harlan Briggs) to come over and examine Snoopington. After safely bedding down the moaning examiner, Sousè suggests that maybe he needs something to eat - "breaded veal cutlet with tomato sauce, a chocolate eclair with whipped cream." Sousè exclaims: "Poor fellow hasn't had anything to eat," as Snoopington rushes to the bathroom to heave.
The quack doctor enters the room and tells his old pal that business isn't like the good old days:
I don't suppose we'll ever get another whooping cough epidemic again.
With a very cursory examination, he orders the sick patient to eat more solids, meats and sauces, more iron (liver and bacon), and vitamins (A, B, and C, skip the rest down to X and Y). The most important treatment is to remain in bed to rest for a few days with no exercise. He produces a large jar filled with awful-looking white pills (the size of ping pong balls): "Take two of these and a glass of castor oil for two nights running. Then you, uh, skip one night." Snoopington takes him literally: "But I thought you said I wasn't to take any exercise."
With the proper rest, the doctor assures that the patient can be released in three days. Sousè keeps trying to imply that four days are necessary - long enough for Oggilby's bonus to be paid so that the books will balance. The doctor adds that if complications set in, an extra day will be needed. As he leaves, Sousè promises to send up a radio to make him feel "gay": "Now leave everything to me. I'll do the worrying. Be happy and gay. I'll have the management send you up a radio." And as he leaves, he promises: "I thought I'll have the missus bake you a nice coconut custard pie...," sending Snoopington to the bathroom one more time to heave.
However, a dutiful, sick, pale-faced, but sober Snoopington obstinately reappears at the bank to examine the bank books for the audit the next morning. Snoopington is assigned to Sousè's care. Og faints when he first sees the auditor. Sousè attempts everything he can to waylay the audit. He crushes Snoopington's right hand in a letter press with a loud crunch. "Unfortunately, you must have had your hand in there. That'll interfere with your writing, won't it?" Sousè hopes. Snoopington one-ups Sousè, informing him: "Fortunately, I'm left-handed." Hearing that Snoopington can't see a thing without his glasses, Sousè deliberately steps on Snoopington's glasses and crushes them with his foot when they fall to the floor. But the bank examiner has a case full of replacement spectacles. The examiner begins to realize that the bank guard is not overly anxious for him to check the books.
In the meantime, Waterbury learns from a newspaper report that the Beefsteak Mine stock is a bonanza and worth a fortune, so he offers to purchase back the stock. Waterbury pretends he is sorry at having unwittingly cheated a trusting friend, and implores them to sell back their shares. Sousè and Og are eager to deal and cash in their stock.
As Snoopington is about to discover the missing funds, and they are about to sell their stock back to Waterbury in the deal, they learn that the stock is successful - their newfound fortune means that they don't have to worry any further about Snoopington. Egbert punches Waterbury through a bank window. Just then, however, the escaped bank robber from the first hold-up robs the bank a second time. The robber fills his case with cash - and their Beefsteak Mine stock. Egbert is taken as hostage, used as a shield, and forced to drive a getaway car in a memorable zany, slapstick car chase, reminiscent of the silent Mack Sennett Keystone Kops films. Following in three other chase cars through the city and country are the local police, the bank president, and a representative from the movie company. It is a superbly-timed chase - the cars zoom and circle around, barely avoid crashing into each other or other obstacles in the path.
The getaway car careens through streets, over ditches (over the heads of ditchdiggers), around curves and up a mountainside, missing collisions at every turn with the pursuit vehicles. An unruffled Sousè gives non-chalant comments about the traffic and scenery. As the car starts to fall apart, he jokes: "The resale value of this car is going to be nil after you get over this trip." When asked by the thug in the back seat to give him the wheel, Egbert matter-of-factly pulls it off the steering column and gives it to him. When the rear tires start falling off, he calmly states:
That's what I thought - going to be very dangerous.
The robber is struck by the bough of a tree as he stands up and the car comes to rest at the edge of a steep precipice. Sousè mumbles: "Have to take the boat from here on anyway." The unconscious thief is apprehended, and Sousè is a hero once again for thwarting another heist - and offered a huge $5,000 reward by the police for capturing the thief. He also is presented with $10,000 by the film company for the brilliant, 'improvised' script that he had created earlier as director on the streets of Lompoc, in addition to a contract to bring the script to the screen. The bank's money and the Beefsteak Mine stock are also recovered. Sousè is given another "hearty handclasp" by the bank president.
In the last sequence where he displays his new-found wealth, Sousè is seen as the dignified master of the house in his expansive, newly-purchased mansion with butlers, while the tune There's No Place Like Home is again heard on the soundtrack. His unlovable family is seated around the dining table. His wife asks the butler if Mr. Sousè has had his favorite drink of the day - "Cafe Rum a la Papa." They now treat him like royalty - he is finally relieved of all financial worries and bothersome family members. He has become his 'alter ego,' the character he had always wanted to become. Dressed in a cutaway coat with spats, all family members (even his mother-in-law) give him a friendly kiss as he steps out - he catches himself when he blurts out that he is on his way to the saloon.
He incurs the displeasure of his butler (Joe North) when he dons his African safari sun helmet to wear with his morning suit, rather than a top hat. Walking happily out into the front driveway, he catches his top hat with his cane. His family acts as if they have reformed him. His mother-in-law compliments his wife:
Mrs. Hermisillo Brunch: What a changed man. You deserve a lot of credit, Agatha.
Agatha: It hasn't been easy.
Outside however, he is free to pursue the life he had always wanted - the carefree, simple life of booze and braggadocio. After he spots the scurrying bartender, he quickens his pace to the Black Pussy Cat Cafe for another drink.
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AMC Filmcritic's Review of The Bank Dick