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Never Say Die (1939)

Approved | | Comedy | 14 April 1939 (USA)
A wealthy hypochondriac and an heiress are both experiencing romantic complications, prompting them to marry each other.


Elliott Nugent


Don Hartman (screenplay), Frank Butler (screenplay) | 2 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Martha Raye ... Mickey Hawkins
Bob Hope ... John Kidley
Andy Devine ... Henry Munch
Alan Mowbray ... Prince Smirnov
Gale Sondergaard ... Juno Marko
Sig Ruman ... Poppa Ingleborg (as Sig Rumann)
Ernest Cossart ... Jeepers
Paul Harvey ... Jasper Hawkins
Frances Arms ... Momma Ingleborg
Ivan F. Simpson ... Kretsky (as Ivan Simpson)
Monty Woolley ... Dr. Schmidt
Foy Van Dolsen Foy Van Dolsen ... Kretsky's Bodyguard
Christian Rub ... The Mayor


Bob Hope is being stalked by a predatory widow who is a widow of wealthy husbands many times over. Martha Raye is a Texan heiress who wants to marry her boyfriend Andy Devine, but her father is determined that she marry into royalty. To solve both their problems, Martha Raye and Bob Hope decide to marry, but will they ever find love together? Written by laird-3

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Did You Know?


This movie may include the first use of the comic gag of a person's trying to memorize a catchy long line of words and getting them hilariously incorrect in the end. The line from this movie is this:

"There's a cross on the muzzle of the pistol with the bullet and a nick on the handle of the pistol with the blank."

In "The Paleface" (1948), also starring Bob Hope, is another example:

"He draws from the left, so lean to the right. There's a wind from the east so better aim to the west. He crouches when he shoots so stand on your toes."

And in "The Court Jester" (1955), Danny Kaye, as the Jester, tries to memorize:

"The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!" After the chalice from the palace was broken, this was amended to: "The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true." See more »


Concierge: Ah, good morning. And how is poor, dear Mr. Kidley?
Jeepers: His gall bladder spent a rather peaceful night... However, he complains of a shooting pain in his sacroiliac.
See more »


Version of Never Say Die (1924) See more »


The Tra La La and The Oom Pah Pah
Written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin
See more »

User Reviews

This comedy is a surefire cure for Bad Gaswasser
28 May 2020 | by SimonJackSee all my reviews

"Never Say Die" is a very good early Bob Hope comedy. It's just the fifth feature film for Hope and the third in which he had the male lead. Martha Raye is billed ahead of him, reflecting her longer tenure and cinematic popularity at the time.

The film is very funny and has touches of satire throughout. The first is in its portrayal of an Alpine spa somewhere is Switzerland or Bavaria. The opening scene has some spoofing of names - the village of Bad Gaswasser, and the Kurhotel Edelweiss. And it shows a worker in the bowels of the place adding Epsom salts, bi-carbs, plum extract and Sulphur dioxide, and then turning on the water supply for the hotel's natural springs.

In this setting is American millionaire, John Kidley, played by Hope. He is a hypochondriac who has come to Bad Gaswasser for two reasons - a cure or treatment for all that ails him, and to escape the clutches of a gold-digger he had met in Paris. Mrs. Juno Marko, played by Gale Sondergaard, is pursing Kidley to tie the knot with him. But Kidley has more than one reason to be leery of the woman who seems to lose husbands in strange ways.

At the same time, a new oil-rich Texan, Jasper Hawkins (Paul Harvey) is there with his daughter, Mickey (Martha Raye). Dad has her engaged to marry into European royalty - namely, Prince Smirnov, played by Alan Mowbray. He's willing to sacrifice his daughter on the altar of love for the prestige that will open the doors to him at the country club back home. That bit of satire is fueled by Mickey's intended groom, Prince Smirnov (Alan Mowbray). He is marrying only for the money to pay off the debts owed to the high society collector hounding him.

Of course, Mickey doesn't go for the forced marriage. Her heart belongs to Henry Munch (Andy Devine) back home. Even if she weren't to marry the prince, dad Jasper can no longer tolerate the hick, Henry, since coming into their wealth. Henry is a lowly mailman. But, he pines for Mickey and eventually shows up himself in Bad Gaswasser - having taken a cattle boat across the ocean.

These characters should be enough to stir the imagination of any movie goer as to how this story plays out. Any crazy plot is possible. And an extended cast of top supporting actors of the day adds to the humor. They include Sig Ruman, Monty Woolley, Ernest Cossart, Frances Arms, Ivan Simpson and many more.

One of the funniest segments is a duel that reminds one of a scene in the 1956 "Court Jester" that starred Danny Kaye. A tongue-twister scene in that film has "the vessel with the pestle" and the "flagon with the dragon." One wonders if the writers of that later comedy didn't get an idea or two from this film. In the scene of a duel, Hope's and Mowbray's characters have to try to remember which weapon to choose, as told them secretly by the loader.

As they walk to face each other and select their weapon, they repeat the confidant's direction: "There's a cross on the muzzle of the pistol with the bullet and a nick on the handle of the pistol with the blank." It turns into gibberish by the time they meet, and Prince Smirnov has just said to himself, "There's a noss on the crizzle of the mistol with the pillet, and a pullet on the nozzle of the nickel with the blank."

The preposterous ending to this film is a fitting finish to a very funny, nonsensical comedy and spoof. Here are some favorite lines from this film.

Concierge, "Ah, good morning. And how is poor, dear Mr. Kidley?" Jeepers, Kidley's valet, "His gall bladder spent a rather peaceful night... However, he complains of a shooting pain in his sacroiliac."

Hotel Proprietor, "Ah, Jeepers, good morning. How is Mr. Kidley this morning?" Jeepers, "Up and down-ish, thank you, sir. His liver was a bit squeamish during the night."

Mrs. June Marko, "Mr. Kidley staying here?" Doorman, "Yes, madam. Rooms 201, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7."

John Kidley, "Oh, yes, the one they said you shot." Mrs. Marko, "It's not true! It's a wicked, slanderous lie!" Kidley, "Oh, I should say it is. Just because you were there and there were holes in him, Mrs. Marko, is no reason why people should..." Mrs. Marko, "I was acquitted. Just because I'm impulsive and quick tempered, people talk." Kidley, "Yes, and with you being an Olympic pistol champion...." Mrs. Marko, "You too?"

John Kidley, "Poor Pierre? What happened to him?" June Marko, "He fell off the Matterhorn." Kidley, "Oh, that's too... That's a mountain!" Mrs. Marko, "Thirteen thousand, six hundred and sixty-nine feet. He was never found." John Kidley, "Did they look? Were you there, Mrs. Marko?" June Marko, "I saw it all. It was horrible. And when it happened, I... I wasn't a foot behind him." Kidley, "Think of that. I'll bet you could've reached right out and touched him, eh, Mrs. Marko?" June Marko, "Easily."

Jeepers, "The coward dies a thousand deaths, the hero dies but once."

Dr. Schmidt, "You are the first human dog."

Mickey Hawkins, "Oh, Henry, that moon. Look at the moon." Henry Munch, whittling a piece of wood, "Yeah, it's big."

Dr. Schmidt, "I'll call it Schmidt's disease." Associate Doctor, "After you?" Dr. Schmidt, "After me."

Dr. Schmidt, "Side by side, we will live through all eternity. Schmidt and his disease," pointing to Kidley.

Henry Munch, "Well, I can't get it outta my mind that I'm kissin' somebody else's wife. Makes me feel like one of them playboys."

Mickey Hawkins, "No, no. And a nick on the pullet of the whistle with the blank."

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Release Date:

14 April 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Never Say Die See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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