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Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)

Passed | | 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:

Edward F. Cline (as Edward Cline)

Writers:

John T. Neville (screen play), Prescott Chaplin (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
W.C. Fields ... The Great Man
Gloria Jean ... Gloria
Leon Errol ... The Rival
Billy Lenhart Billy Lenhart ... Butch (as Butch)
Kenneth Brown Kenneth Brown ... Buddy (as Buddy)
Margaret Dumont ... Mrs. Hemogloben
Susan Miller ... Ouilotta Hemogloben
Franklin Pangborn ... The Producer
Mona Barrie ... The Producer's Wife
Charles Lang ... Pete Carson
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

Taglines:

The great nose-piece takes you to Hollywood for the howls of a lifetime! (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 October 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Great Man 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

Several cast members in studio records/casting call lists for this movie were not seen in the final print. These were (with their character names): Richard Alexander (Burly Man), William Alston (Circus Attendant), Al Hill (Studio Policeman), James C. Morton (Studio Policeman), Lloyd Ingraham (Doctor) and Armand 'Curly' Wright (Doctor). 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

Waitress: You're so clever.
The Great Man: Who told you I was clever?
Waitress: Oh, all your friends at the studio told me.
The Great Man: Oh, drat! I told 'em not tell you.
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

Referenced in Head (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

VOICES OF SPRING
(1882) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
Sung by Gloria Jean
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Selling A Screenplay, Fields Style
23 June 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Never Give A Sucker An Even Break was W.C. Fields's last starring film and last one that he had complete creative control. All of his future film work would be guest appearances and specialties.

This film is as anarchistic as anything the Marx Brothers ever did, in fact it anticipates Monty Python by over 30 years. Most of it is Fields relating an idea for a screenplay to studio head Franklin Pangborn. This is where it gets positively surreal.

To cement the Marxian connection Fields gets to pay court to Groucho's favorite foil Margaret Dumont. But the relationship here is totally different. Margaret is always the butt of Groucho's bon mots half of which she confessed herself went over her head. With Fields as with other women like Kathleen Howard who henpecked him previously, the women dominate and Fields gets his points across, but mostly with pantomime and facial expression.

The film is also to showcase Universal's backup teenage soprano Gloria Jean. Remember at this time before Abbott&Costello score a hit with Buck Privates, Deanna Durbin was their number one star. But the best way to keep a star under control was to have a replacement waiting in the wings. That was Gloria Jean's function. She had done well with Bing Crosby in a film the previous year, If I Had My Way, that allowed a far better expression of her talents. She had a pleasing soprano voice and Fields lowered the cynicism quotient in his scenes with his 'niece'.

Still Never Give A Sucker An Even Break is a Bill Fields film all the way. Too bad this was the last film to give his talents full range.


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