Sophie Monks Kaufman

Watch this short film about a man trying to open a bank account

Discover this rarely seen animated gem by a one-time Buster Keaton collaborator.

To anyone who has ever been cowed by the unhelpful sternness of a big institution, My Financial Career – a tragicomic animation from 1962 – is solace. The six-minute film is set in a bank and directed and animated by Gerald Potterton, writer and co-director with Buster Keaton on The Railrodder. The words are taken from a short story by Stephen Leacock, whose wit is so renowned in Canada that the annual Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour has been going since 1947.

The language of the short is delectable in its precision and doleful in its perceptiveness. Stanley Jackson’s voice imbues the little gentle man with emotional insecurity. “The moment I cross the thresh-hold of a bank and attempt to transact business there I become an irresponsible idiot,” he says, melodious voice steeling itself as he climbs stairs that are ten times his height.

It’s funny because it’s absurd. Why should a simple act like setting up a bank account with the help of human professionals be anything other than straightforward? Yet small misunderstandings lead to insurmountable problems until all is comically out-of-hand. The nature of these bureaucratic ordeals may have changed since 1962 but the tone remains as captured in this wonderful, layered film, which you can watch at nfb.ca

Published 19 Nov 2015

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