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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

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 »

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

Charlie McCarthy: Are you eating a tomato or is that your nose?
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Screen Tests: Take 1 (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Very familiar material bolstered by Edger Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.
8 April 2010 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

W.C. Fields made several films that were essentially the same stories with a few variations. While I love Fields films, I am not a huge fan of these derivative tales. They are derivative but still mildly entertaining---and far from his best work. "Poppy", "The Old Fashioned Way" and "You Can't Cheat and Honest Man" all share many story elements--many. Each have Fields playing the leader of a two-bit circus or acting troop. Each has a grown daughter who Fields dotes upon. Each has Fields on the verge of bankruptcy. And, in each, the daughter faces a crisis. Because of this, even if this film is done well, it's still very familiar.

Fortunately for "You Can't Cheat and Honest Man", there is one major difference that sets it apart. Because of the success of Fields and Charlie McCarthy on the radio, the folks at Universal decided to add Edger Bergen and his dummies to the movie to give it a bit of punch. Bergan's humor was quite welcome and made this film less sentimental than the two previous incarnations...and a bit funnier.

Overall, it's worth seeing. However, if at all possible, try watching one of Fields' best films first to see just how good he can be with a more original story. "It's a Gift" is probably his best, though "The Bank Dick" and "You're Telling Me" are all wonderful Fields films. They are similar in that in each W.C. appears to fall on his face but by the end has become HUGELY successful, but otherwise each is very unique and better suited for his great personality.


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