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 ...
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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 »
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 »
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
What's going on here now? What's the idea?
Well, I'm Col. Dalrymple's nephew, Chester. Your new assistant.
Well, that doesn't give you the right to kiss me, does it?
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Edgar Bergen's dummy Charlie McCarthy is credited as Himself. See more »
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.
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