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You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939)

 -  Comedy  -  18 February 1939 (USA)
7.3
Your rating:
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,045 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 9 critic

Larson E. Whipsnade runs a seedy circus which is perpetually in debt. His performers give him nothing but trouble, especially Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Meanwhile, Whipsnade's son ... See full summary »

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play), 6 more credits »
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Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Larson E. Whipsnade
Edgar Bergen ...
The Great Edgar
Charlie McCarthy ...
By Himself
...
Rochester (as Eddie Anderson)
Mortimer Snerd ...
By Himself
Constance Moore ...
Victoria Whipsnade
...
Phineas Whipsnade
James Bush ...
Roger Bel-Goodie
Thurston Hall ...
Mr. Bel-Goodie
Mary Forbes ...
Mrs. Bel-Goodie
Edward Brophy ...
Corbett
Arthur Hohl ...
Burr
Princess Baba ...
Princess Baba
Blacaman ...
By Himself
Edit

Storyline

Larson E. Whipsnade runs a seedy circus which is perpetually in debt. His performers give him nothing but trouble, especially Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Meanwhile, Whipsnade's son and daughter, Phineas and Vicky, attend a posh college. Vicky turns down her caddish but rich suitor Roger Bel-Goodie, but changes her mind when she learns of her father's financial troubles. Will Vicky marry for money or succumb to the ventriloqual charm of Edgar Bergen? Will Whipsnade's Circus Giganticus make it over the state line one jump ahead of the sheriff? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 February 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A mí no me engaña nadie  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Legend has it that on the set of You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939), a stagehand was cleaning out W.C. Fields' dressing room and accidentally bumped into a table on which Fields had placed a bottle of whiskey. He caught the bottle before it hit the floor, but the cork had popped out and he couldn't find it. He placed the bottle back on the table and left. Later Fields came back to the dressing room, and a few minutes after-wards stormed out, roaring "Who took the cork out of my lunch?" See more »

Quotes

Whipsnade: I'm taking on the personality of a Mexican jumping bean. First the contortionist gets rheumatism. Then the sword-swallower gets tonsilitis. Hope nothing happens to that fan dancer... not 'til I get rid of this cold, anyway.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Edgar Bergen's dummy Charlie McCarthy is credited as Himself. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Columbo: How to Dial a Murder (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

The Irish Washerwoman
(uncredited)
Traditional
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Very familiar material bolstered by Edger Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.
8 April 2010 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

W.C. Fields made several films that were essentially the same stories with a few variations. While I love Fields films, I am not a huge fan of these derivative tales. They are derivative but still mildly entertaining---and far from his best work. "Poppy", "The Old Fashioned Way" and "You Can't Cheat and Honest Man" all share many story elements--many. Each have Fields playing the leader of a two-bit circus or acting troop. Each has a grown daughter who Fields dotes upon. Each has Fields on the verge of bankruptcy. And, in each, the daughter faces a crisis. Because of this, even if this film is done well, it's still very familiar.

Fortunately for "You Can't Cheat and Honest Man", there is one major difference that sets it apart. Because of the success of Fields and Charlie McCarthy on the radio, the folks at Universal decided to add Edger Bergen and his dummies to the movie to give it a bit of punch. Bergan's humor was quite welcome and made this film less sentimental than the two previous incarnations...and a bit funnier.

Overall, it's worth seeing. However, if at all possible, try watching one of Fields' best films first to see just how good he can be with a more original story. "It's a Gift" is probably his best, though "The Bank Dick" and "You're Telling Me" are all wonderful Fields films. They are similar in that in each W.C. appears to fall on his face but by the end has become HUGELY successful, but otherwise each is very unique and better suited for his great personality.


4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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