7.2/10
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23 user 11 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:

George Marshall, Edward F. Cline (uncredited)

Writers:

George Marion Jr. (screen play), Richard Mack (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
W.C. Fields ... Larson E. Whipsnade
Edgar Bergen ... The Great Edgar
Charlie McCarthy ... Charlie
Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson ... Rochester (as Eddie Anderson)
Mortimer Snerd ... Mortimer
Constance Moore ... Victoria Whipsnade
John Arledge ... Phineas Whipsnade
James Bush ... Roger Bel-Goodie
Thurston Hall ... Mr. Bel-Goodie
Mary Forbes ... Mrs. Bel-Goodie
Edward Brophy ... Corbett
Arthur Hohl ... Burr
Princess Baba ... Princess Baba
Blacaman 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 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 February 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A mí no me engaña nadie See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

If you look closely, there are two shots in which ads on the side of one of the circus wagons promote "Madame Gorgeous." In W.C. Fields original story, she was supposed to be his wife, a star high-wire performer in his circus until she is killed in an accident doing her act. Her death was supposed to give pathos to Fields' characterization and also explain why the circus had previously been prospering and was now in debt. However, producer Lester Cowan and other Universal executives didn't think a death was an appropriate way to begin a comic film, so they made Fields take it out. Later he wanted to use Madame Gorgeous and her death in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), but again his bosses at Universal ordered said no. See more »

Goofs

Miss Sludge's cigarette changes length from scene to scene. It's also full length and unlit when she hits W.C. with it. Also, the fan in the background is on in some scenes of the ping-pong game, and off again - during the fast cuts. The sound of the ball bouncing in the fountain sometimes doesn't match the video - you hear it clinking in the cone when it's hovering at one point. See more »

Quotes

Rochester: Mr. Waxnewt?
Whipsnade: Waxnewt? It's Windshade! Eh...
Rochester: Whipsnade.
Whipsnade: Whipsnade, yes.
Rochester: Yes, Whipsnade.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown on canvas screens, on loops and ropes, to mimic the circus tent being raised when the circus comes to town. We see the first screen get hauled up with ropes, and there are dummies showing the stars of the show. See more »


Soundtracks

Sobre las olas (Over the Waves)
(uncredited)
Music by Juventino Rosas
See more »

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User Reviews

 
W.C. Fields at less then his best, but still Fields.
22 May 2001 | by bobc-5See all my reviews

When counting out change for a customer buying tickets at his debt-ridden circus, Fields leads the customer to believe that he not only has counted out too much, but accidentally given him change for a 20 rather than a 10. The customer grabs the money and runs without bothering to point out the mistake. I think you can guess what actually happened.

This is really the only relevance of the title to a movie which is basically a series of skits showcasing W.C. Fields and Edgar Bergen, occasionally together, but usually in individual routines. Although W.C. is always a pleasure to watch, this is certainly not one of the better movies in which to do that. First of all, the Bergen routines grow tiresome quickly. There's only so much I can take of watching a ventriloquist who moves his lips while everyone pretends that his wooden dummies are alive. Second, Fields' routines never reach the level of inspired zaniness which his best films are able to achieve.

Finally, Fields never really imbues his character with any humanity until the final scenes. It his ability to do so which makes his best movies so special ("It's a Gift", "The Bank Dick", "You're Telling Me", etc.). Without it, all you have is a run-of-the-mill hit-or-miss comedy.


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