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He Couldn't Say No (1938)

Passed  -  Adventure | Comedy | Crime  -  19 March 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 112 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 1 critic

An office clerk is harassed by his girlfriend's mother.


(as Lew Seiler)


(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Title: He Couldn't Say No (1938)

He Couldn't Say No (1938) on IMDb 5.8/10

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Complete credited cast:
Frank McHugh ...
Violet Coney
Cora Witherspoon ...
Mrs. Coney
Diana Lewis ...
Iris Mabby
Berton Churchill ...
Senator Mabby
Ferris Taylor ...
Oxnard O. Parsons
William Haade ...
Slug, a Gangster
Tom Kennedy ...
Raymond Hatton ...
Hymie Atlas, a Gangster
John Ridgely ...
Ed, the Man-On-The-Street Radio Reporter
Chester Clute ...
Cliff Clark ...
Rita Gould ...
Julia Becker, the Sculptor
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Cliff Saum ...
Painter (scenes deleted)


Office clerk Lambert T. Hunkins gets a ten-dollar raise and his girlfriend, Violet Coney, and her mother learn that he has also some money saved, and decide it is time Lambert and Violet got married and start supporting them. Lambert is secretly in lone with Iris Mabby, daughter of Senator Mabby, and he clips all the pictures of her that appears in the newspapers. Violet and Mom railroad him into getting engaged to Violet, and take him to an auction to buy for furniture for future use. Instead, he buys an-unauthorized statue of Iris. Her father wants it back, Lambert refuses and won't sell it at any price. Then a trio of gangsters show up with intentions of selling it to the senator at a very high price. Complications ensue en mass. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

senator | clerk | raise | statue | gangster | See All (49) »


HE GAMBLED ON LIFE...and won first prize in a love sweepstakes


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 March 1938 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The play by Joseph Schrank opened in Springfield, Massachusetts on 16 March 1936. See more »

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User Reviews

A Great Cast is Wasted on Silly Story
9 January 2012 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

He Couldn't Say No (1938)

** (out of 4)

A weak story kills this film about a broke office clerk (Frank McHugh) who is getting pressured from his co-worker's (Jane Wyman) mother (Cora Witherspoon) to get married to her daughter. Things take a turn for the worse between the three when the guy goes to an auction and spends all his money on a plaster statue because it reminds him of a model (Diana Lewis) and soon all hell breaks loose due to this statue. At just 57-minutes there's certainly nothing overly bad or evil with this film but there's no question that it should have been much better. If you're a fan of classic Warner films then you've bound to have seen McHugh appear with some of the studio's biggest guys. It was good that the studio finally gave him the lead part in a movie but sadly the screenplay just can't pull anything off. There are some pretty funny moments including a one-liner coming back towards the mother during a dinner sequence and there's another good piece at the start when the clerk goes into his manager's office thinking he's going to be fired. The rest of the comedy pretty much fails because the comedy just isn't that funny. The second portion of the film deals with the model's father trying to buy the statue back and then we have gangsters getting involved. None of this stuff is funny and when he's offered thousands of dollars for this statue and refuses to sell, it's not cute but instead annoying. The screenplay really lets the cast down because everything is pretty good here. McHugh gives that comic performance like only he can deliver. Wyman is very good in the role of the girlfriend and Witherspoon is very believable as that annoying future mother-in-law. Berton Churchill plays the Senator trying to buy the statue and Lewis is simply divine in her part. HE COULDN'T SAY NO probably best sums up what went wrong with the story when someone didn't say no to it.

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