In my blog on Sunday Cricket, the other day, I signed off with the phrase 'Godfrey Daniels', prompting David to ask, not unreasonably, “Who the heck’s 'Godfrey Daniels'?”
Since, possibly, the same question, was hovering on your lips, I thought I’d explain…
Godfrey Daniels! (sometimes plural, sometime singular) was a ‘minced curse’ for God dammit! favoured by the great screen comic, W C Fields.
Fields doubtless indulged in what is sometimes called ‘light cursing’ less out of sensitivity to the feelings of his audience than to the restrictive rules and regulations of the authorities that monitored movie morality.
According to IMDb (I love their tagline: ‘Earth’s Biggest Movie Database’!), Fields first used the phrase in his 1930 film, The Golf Specialist in which his character, J Effingham Bellweather, also famously said: “You know, I’ve never struck a woman in my life… Not even my mother!”
In 1975, Movie historian, Richard J Anobile published a book on Fields' early movies and called it --- Godfrey Daniels! Verbal and Visual Gems from the Short Films of W C Fields.
There are many really funny (and totally un-pc) Fields quotes, but here’s a fistful for you - preferably read (if you know how to do it) with that celebrated accent: slow and very slightly slurred...
Start every day with a smile and get it over with.
‘Horse sense’ is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.
Children should neither be seen nor heard from -- ever again.
Madam, there's no such thing as a tough child - if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.
Women are like elephants to me: I like to look at them, but I wouldn't want to own one.
I was in love with a beautiful blonde once, dear. She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I'm indebted to her for!
I always keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake -- which I also keep handy.
My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a whittish fluid they force down helpless babies.
Once... in the wilds of Afghanistan, I lost my corkscrew, and we were forced to live on nothing but food and water for days.
I don't drink water; fish f*** in it.
What a gorgeous day. What effulgent sunshine. It was a day of this sort the McGillicuddy brothers murdered their mother with an axe.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again. Then give up. There's no use being a damned fool about it.
Just a quick reference back to Walt Disney (where this all started): along with many other Hollywood stars, Fields appeared in caricatured form in various Disney shorts, including Mother Goose Goes Hollywood (1938) in which the irascible Fields was cast as equally cantankerous Humpty Dumpty, a role he had already played (with an egg-head mask) in Paramount Studio’s 1933 production of Alice in Wonderland.
[Image: Illustration to Field's "Looking for loopholes" line from the Quotes & Sayings section of the highly entertaining and enlightening website Terry Colon Illustration]