You Can't Cheat an Honest Man | Chicago Reader

You Can't Cheat an Honest Man

76 minutes

Dropped by Paramount, W.C. Fields moved to Universal for this 1939 circus comedy with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. According to Fields biographer Simon Louvish, shooting began with a six-page script, which probably accounts for the thin plot involving irate creditors and Fields's daughter (Constance Moore) agreeing to marry a rich nerd for his money. But there are some solid laughs along the way, particularly Fields's insult war with Charlie (already a staple on radio) and a manic Ping-Pong game at a society party. Universal is often derided as the low-rent home of Abbott and Costello, but Fields thrived there, continuing on with My Little Chickadee, The Bank Dick, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.

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