For Whom the Bell Withers

The best part of “The Golf Specialist” occurs near the end when the sheriff presents the wanted sheet listing all the crimes J. Effingham Bellweather (W.C. Fields) has supposedly committed.  According to the poster, Bellweather is wanted for Bigamy, Passing as the Prince of Wales, Eating spaghetti in public, Using hard words in a speakeasy, Trumping partner’s ace, Spitting in the Gulf Stream, Jumping board bill in seventeen lunatic asylums, Failure to play installments on a strait-jacket, Possessing a skunk, and Revealing the facts of life to an Indian.

Few, if any, of these charges would be considered transgressions worthy of imprisonment today. But what about the other offenses the audience sees but which the eyes of the law do not? Here are the charges any citizen viewing this 1930 short could bring against Bellweather: lifting the muff off the shapely derriere of another man’s wife while both of them are looking other way; trying to take a bank from a child by force; stepping on a pie on a public green; irreparably damaging golf clubs; berating his caddy and calling him a sissy; littering a golf green with tissue paper; causing an officer of the law to shoot a bird out of season,  thus being responsible for said bird to plucked clean of feathers during its descent; stiffing a sea captain out of a $40 charter fee; littering a hotel lobby with remains of a $40 dun; asking the age of a under-aged towhead; admitting he can be cruel if he needs to be; kicking a stuffed dog out of a lobby;  pocketing a golf ball that happens to roll his way;  twisting both ends of a false mustache in frustration; misidentifying a mutt for a dromedary;  stooping way over for some ripping yarns; muttering “I’m sorry you had to see this” to the person next to him instead of those watching from afar.







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