And here we are, ready to dig into the W.C Fields silent comedy, Running Wild, from 1927.
In this movie, W.C Fields is Elmer Finch, a very timid man, scared of almost everybody. His daughter believes he can be great, but his second wife constantly berates him, and his stepson might just as well be the man of the house, considering he has his mother wrapped around his finger. The situation is just as bad at the novelty shop that Elmer works at, where he has been a clerk for twenty years. When he is sent to collect the bill from somebody that is very difficult, he ends up running into a theatre, where a hypnotist is performing. Elmer is hypnotized into believing he is a lion. Before the hypnotist can bring him out of it, he runs off, fiercely dealing with his various problems.
Now, when I first heard about this movie (which was when it and It’s The Old Army Game were announced as coming out on Blu-ray and DVD), I didn’t really know what to make of it. I could only claim to have seen a few of W.C. Fields’ movies (Mississippi from 1935 and The Big Broadcast of 1938), but from what I had seen, I had no idea what to make of the idea of W.C Fields being in any silent movies. Sound seemed to serve his style of comedy really well, so I was curious to see what he would be like in a silent movie, without that well-known voice of his. Now, I will admit, this movie started out a little slow, for about the first twenty minutes or so. But I figured that it was all set-up, helping to introduce us to the character. Once his character was hypnotized, then the fun really began! All the set-up worked (at least, it did for me), so all the running around and screaming “I’m a lion!” was absolutely hilarious! While he wasn’t quite as agile as the other silent comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd (which I would attribute to his age, since he was about 47ish at the time he made this movie, if I am correct), he still managed to rely enough on physical comedy, which I hadn’t seen as much in the handful of sound movies that I had seen! So, as for the movie itself, I do recommend it for a few good laughs!
Now, apparently, this movie, owned by Paramount, had no prior release on DVD. So, Kino Lorber’s release on Blu-ray and DVD is the first one on home video in quite a while. The movie did undergo some restoration for this release. Now, I’m not informed enough to know what elements still exist for this movie, so I can only say what I know about this release. The picture looks pretty good, although it does have some weaker moments. Quite frankly, though, I would say that (again, without knowing what elements exist), this movie looks pretty good. I personally don’t expect the movie to look pristine, considering its age and how many silent films are lost to us at this point and what’s left don’t always have the best elements to work with. So, if you want perfect, look elsewhere, but if you can stand to live with less-than-perfect, you can have a very good time here. I don’t know whether to recommend it for young kids who can’t read yet, but then again, they might be able to supply dialogue that is just as funny, at least for their parents! The movie is one hour, eight minutes in length.
My Rating: 8/10