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Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,416 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 16 critic

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:

(as Edward Cline)

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Title: Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)

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Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
The Great Man
Gloria Jean ...
His Niece
Leon Errol ...
His Rival
Billy Lenhart ...
His Heckler (as Butch)
Kenneth Brown ...
His Heckler (as Buddy)
...
Mrs. Hemogloben
Susan Miller ...
Ouilotta Hemogloben
Franklin Pangborn ...
The Producer
Mona Barrie ...
The Producer's Wife
Charles Lang ...
The Young Engineer
Anne Nagel ...
Madame Gorgeous
Nell O'Day ...
The Salesgirl
Irving Bacon ...
The Soda Jerk
Jody Gilbert ...
The Waitress
Minerva Urecal ...
The Cleaning Woman
Edit

Storyline

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 her mother is killed in a trapeze fall during the making of a circus movie. He and his niece, who he finds at a shooting gallery, fly to Mexico to sell wooden nutmegs in a Russian colony. Trying to catch his bottle as it falls from the plane, he lands on a mountain peak where lives the man- eating Mrs. Hemogloben. When he gets to the Russian colony he finds Leon Errol (father of the insulting boys and owner of the shooting gallery) already selling wooden nutmegs. He decides to woo the wealthy Mrs. Hemogloben but when he gets there Errol has preceded him. The Mexican adventure is the story that Esoteric Studios would not buy. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 October 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gib einem Trottel nie eine Chance  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title came from dialog in the final scene of W.C. Fields' big stage hit (and later film) "Poppy". See more »

Goofs

During the ice cream parlor scene, when WC Fields blows the foam off the ice cream soda, part of it lands on his hand. In the subsequent close up shot, when he picks the soda up, his hand is clean. See more »

Quotes

The Great Man: [in the soda fountain] I feel as though somebody stepped on my tongue with muddy feet.
[to the camera]
The Great Man: This scene's supposed to be in a saloon but the censor cut it out. It'll play just as well this way.
See more »

Connections

Featured in W.C. Fields: Straight Up (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

OCHI TCHORNYA (DARK EYES)
(uncredited)
Arranged from Russian ballad by Harry Horlick, Gregory Stone
Sung by Gloria Jean
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Almost perfect; 9/10
27 June 2001 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

One of Fields' best (is there anything that's not?), Never Give a Sucker an Even Break is basically his swan song. Never again would he star in a motion picture. And it is a glorious swan song, nearly as funny as his greatest film, The Bank Dick. It may even be his second best film, although several fight for that position: The Old-Fashioned Way, It's a Gift, You're Telling Me, The Man on the Flying Trapeze, etc.

In a somewhat mournful way, the plot revolves around Fields, playing himself, trying to sell a script to a producer played by Franklin Pangborn (a bit confusing, seeing he retains his real name; Franklin Pangborn was an actor, though, not a producer). The film Fields wants to make is a lot like many other classic comedies: a bunch of gags strung together in a haphazard fashion. Part of the joke is that the plot doesn't exist as such. Tastes were changing at the time, and Pangborn is flabberghasted at the nonsensical plot. The funniest moments of Never Give a Sucker an Even Break take place as Fields' own screenplay plays out.

Like a lot of classic comedies, this one is also part musical, but unlike those same comedies, the music in this film isn't painful to sit through (I'm lookin' at you, Marx Brothers!). It's actually quite marvelous. The songs are sung by Gloria Jean, a teenager playing Fields' niece. She is beautiful and a wonderful singer. She's also quite funny when the film gives her that chance (her audition for Pangborn is gold). Also joining the cast is the Marx Brothers' favorite foil, Margaret Dumont, playing a woman who hates men so much she brought her daughter up on top of a steep precipice to raise her without the impediment of that gender.


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