7.2/10
1,309
19 user 9 critic

You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939)

Approved | | Comedy | 18 February 1939 (USA)
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) | 2 more credits »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $0.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Fields wants to sell a film story to Esoteric Studios. On the way he gets insulted by little boys, beat up for ogling a woman, and abused by a waitress. He becomes his niece's guardian when... See full summary »

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: W.C. Fields, Gloria Jean, Leon Errol
The Bank Dick (1940)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Henpecked Egbert Sousè has comic adventures as a substitute film director and unlikely bank guard.

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: W.C. Fields, Cora Witherspoon, Una Merkel
Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Rightly suspected of illicit relations with the Masked Bandit, Flower Belle Lee is run out of Little Bend. On the train she meets con man Cuthbert J. Twillie and pretends to marry him for "... See full summary »

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: Mae West, W.C. Fields, Joseph Calleia
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Hard-working, henpecked Ambrose Wolfinger takes off from work to go to a wrestling match with catastrophic consequences.

Directors: Clyde Bruckman, W.C. Fields
Stars: W.C. Fields, Kathleen Howard, Mary Brian
It's a Gift (1934)
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A henpecked New Jersey grocer makes plans to move to California to grow oranges, despite the resistance of his overbearing wife.

Director: Norman Z. McLeod
Stars: W.C. Fields, Kathleen Howard, Jean Rouverol
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A hard-drinking, socially-awkward inventor wrecks his daughter's chances of marriage into a rich family and bungles his own chances of success by selling one of his more practical inventions.

Director: Erle C. Kenton
Stars: W.C. Fields, Joan Marsh, Buster Crabbe
Poppy (1936)
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Carny con artist and snake-oil salesman Eustace McGargle tries to stay one step ahead of the sheriff but is completely devoted to his beloved daughter Poppy.

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Stars: W.C. Fields, Rochelle Hudson, Richard Cromwell
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The Great McGonigle and his troupe of third-rate vaudevillians manage to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors and the sheriff.

Director: William Beaudine
Stars: W.C. Fields, Joe Morrison, Baby LeRoy
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Assorted wacky characters converge on a Chinese hotel to bid on a new invention...television.

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Stars: W.C. Fields, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Rudy Vallee
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After inheriting a fortune from a gangster, two dim-witted service station attendants find themselves stranded in a haunted house.

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Richard Carlson
Six of a Kind (1934)
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a respectable middle-class couple take a cross-country trip by auto, they share expenses with a decidedly oddball couple, none of whom know the car carries embezzled funds.

Director: Leo McCarey
Stars: Charles Ruggles, Mary Boland, W.C. Fields
The Dentist (1932)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An unconventional dentist deals with patients in slapstick fashion.

Director: Leslie Pearce
Stars: W.C. Fields, Marjorie Kane, Arnold Gray
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Larson E. Whipsnade
...
The Great Edgar
...
Charlie
...
Rochester (as Eddie Anderson)
...
Mortimer
...
Victoria Whipsnade
...
Phineas Whipsnade
James Bush ...
Roger Bel-Goodie
...
Mr. Bel-Goodie
Mary Forbes ...
Mrs. Bel-Goodie
...
Corbett
Arthur Hohl ...
Burr
...
Princess Baba
Blacaman ...
Blacaman
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 this film 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 afterwards stormed out, roaring "Who took the cork out of my lunch?" Whether this story is apocryphal or not, Fields actually uses that line at one point in the film. See more »

Quotes

Whipsnade: What's going on here now? What's the idea?
Chester Dalrymple: Well, I'm Col. Dalrymple's nephew, Chester. Your new assistant.
Whipsnade: Well, that doesn't give you the right to kiss me, does it?
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in The Real McCoys: You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

Camptown Races
(uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Sung with substitute lyrics by circus hands
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
"Somebody Took The Cork Out Of My Lunch"
23 July 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

You Can't Cheat An Honest Man finds widower W.C. Fields running a second rate circus and trying to stay one step ahead of the law as he's creditors just about every place he goes. His children, John Arledge and Constance Moore attend a really posh Ivy League type school and you sympathize with Fields because you know this why he's probably not paying his bills. One also can speculate what his wife must have put up with back in the day.

Moore on a visit to Dad's show falls for the ventriloquist sideshow performer Edgar Bergen. But Bergen doesn't really get along with Fields or I should say his alter ego Charlie McCarthy doesn't.

The Fields-McCarthy feud was legendary on radio and it might seem hard to fathom how a ventriloquist could entertain on radio. But the characters he created were so powerful and had such a hold on the minds of the public that they were real. Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd were characters in their own right, they almost but not quite gained separate identities away from Edgar Bergen.

Anyway on Bergen's show, Bill Fields was a frequent guest and the repartee between Fields and McCarthy is still classic. Even without knowing that background, today's audience can still enjoy You Can't Cheat an Honest Man because the comedy is eternal.

There's not much of a plot except for Moore loving Bergen, but being ready to marry snobbish James Bush to help her father in his financial troubles. I'm sure you can figure out how that goes, especially when prospect in-laws Thurston Hall and Mary Forbes meet Fields at a little clambake they're throwing.

The circus offers a range of opportunity for some great gags including trying to pry Charlie McCarthy out of an alligator, an elephant who gives Fields showers on command and of course sawing Charlie in half during a magic act.

Still it's the repartee between Fields and Bergen and another of the unforgettable characterizations that Bill Fields brings us which makes You Can't Cheat An Honest Man a comedy classic.


9 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?