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Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical | 10 October 1941 (USA)
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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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
His Niece
...
His Rival
Billy Lenhart ...
His Heckler (as Butch)
Kenneth Brown ...
His Heckler (as Buddy)
...
Mrs. Hemogloben
Susan Miller ...
Ouilotta Hemogloben
...
The Producer
...
The Producer's Wife
Charles Lang ...
The Young Engineer
Anne Nagel ...
Madame Gorgeous
...
The Salesgirl
...
The Soda Jerk
Jody Gilbert ...
The Waitress
...
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 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 October 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El pelele no tiene suerte  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last movie he starred in, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), included a character Fields always wanted to have in one of his movies: a young woman (in this case his niece, played by Gloria Jean) who loved him unconditionally. See more »

Goofs

At the drug store the register changes from 10 cents to no sale, back to 10 cents and finally 15. Also at the end of the scene the soda jerk has a fly crawling down his face, but when he hits it with a bottle the fly is gone. See more »

Quotes

[they're in the basket trying to figure out how to get it pulled up to the mountaintop - a rock falls on his head]
His Niece: Did it hurt you, uncle?
The Great Man: No... how could a rock dropping from a thousand feet hurt your head?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film opens with W. C. Fields' credit as star over a cartoon caricature of him. Then the chest of the character expands to bloated proportions, and the title of the film is printed on Fields' huge cartoon chest. See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

ESTRELLITA
(1912) (uncredited)
Written by Manuel M. Ponce
Sung by Gloria Jean
See more »

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User Reviews

Jumping Suckers We
28 September 2005 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

This is possibly the last gasp of vaudevillian humor in movies, and to my mind the best beyond the early Marx brothers movies — which were just filmed acts.

But this is something quite different, firmly a film, a folded film, the kind I like.

The deal is simple. Fields at this time was an unreliable drunk whose humor was considered outdated. He could only get a movie financed if he was able to use it to feature a young actress whose presence is completed unrelated to what he wants to do.

So. Fields writes and makes a movie about what? Himself as an unreliable drunk who cannot get a movie made unless it features a young girl. A third of the movie is a traditional Fields movie, with mistaken punches, punchline gags and his obnoxious humor. A car chase.

A third of the movie is more of the same, except focused on the storyline of Fields going over his script. The producer keeps denigrating the story.

And the final third is the movie he makes, with fantastic effects.

All three of these have Fields being Fields and Gloria Jean shoehorned in, in the most intensionally jarring ways with musical numbers and endearing face shots.

Whether you like Fields' humor is a matter of taste. I do like it because it is so honest. This isn't an act: he really was drunk and belligerent, closing down production frequently. But whether you like the humor or not, you have to admire the way this thing is constructed. It is all about jumping among these three narrative stances, and the movie within the movie within is all based on plot devices that feature jumping among scenarios.

This was, in my opinion an influential movie in furthering the notions of folded narrative in film.

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.


16 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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