How the Stash Changes Them.


I'd like to introduce my 10 year old grandson to WC Fields and hope to rent some movies. A friend was telling me recently of a movie or a sequence in a movie where W.C. Fields was poor but won the lottery. He bought several new cars and whenever a road hog got in the way, W.C.'s chauffeur ran them off of the road and then W.C. and his wife would hop in their next lined up new vehicle. Do you happen to know what movie this came from. Thank you for your help, Jeanine


Now, to your enquiry: The name of the segment you describe came from the film If I had a Million. A patchwork motion picture, it broke the boundaries of filmic storytelling by eschewing a story arc that follows one or two main characters to fulfill a mission with impediments. (i.e. Dorothy wants to get back to Kansas, or W.C. wants to get an orange ranch in California). In ...Million, the plot settles around a multi-millionaire who thinks he faces near death and does not want to leave his money to his mendicant-ish relatives so he decides to randomly pick people from the phone directory and give each a million dollars until his money dries up. The film then tells the story of a number of characters who receive the money and we follow how the stash changes them. Gary Cooper, George Raft, Charles Laughton, Charlie Ruggles, and a slew of Paramount stars make-up the “cameo” appearances in the various vignettes including W.C.'s own little story.

Studio portrait of W.C. Fields and Alison Skipworth.
Studio portrait of W.C. Fields and Alison Skipworth.

It turns out in the film and real life Fields is an ex-vaudevillian juggler. Recently married to one of his favorite foils, Allison Skepworth in real life, Emily in the film, Rollo LaRue (W.C.) benefits from Emily's new found wealth. It turns out they both harbor a maniacal hatred for bad drivers particularly “road hogs.” With their new found largesse they decide to buy a fleet of cars with drivers and hit the pavement in search of “road hogs.” Once found they run the evil drivers off the road, get out of their wrecked car and get to the next vehicle to find the new road hog and deal with him/her in like manner. In my film book I gave this piece a mediocre review. It is not his best. For an intro to Fields I think a ten year old would prefer one of Fields' Sennett shorts such as The Dentist, The Pharmacist, or The Barber Shop. Best yet, my documentary W.C. Fields Straight-up highlights W.C.'s best clips from all his films (I think you can find it at Amazon). At ten, you may want to fast forward through the interviews.