Review: ‘Never Give a Sucker an Even Break’

W.C. Fields parades his droll satire and broad comedy in this takeoff on eccentricities of film making - from personal writings of the original story by Fields under nom de plume of Otis Criblecoblis. It's a hodge-podge of razzle-dazzle episodes, tied together in disjointed fashion but with sufficient laugh content for the comedian's fans.

W.C. Fields parades his droll satire and broad comedy in this takeoff on eccentricities of film making – from personal writings of the original story by Fields under nom de plume of Otis Criblecoblis. It’s a hodge-podge of razzle-dazzle episodes, tied together in disjointed fashion but with sufficient laugh content for the comedian’s fans.

Story focuses attention on Fields and his presentation of an imaginative script for his next picture at Esoteric Studios. In series of cutbacks depicting wild-eyed action as read by producer Franklin Pangborn, Fields horse-plays in a plane, dives out to land on a mountain plateau safely, and finally leaves the studio to embark on a crashing auto chase.

Fields is Fields throughout. He wrote the yarn for himself, and knew how to handle the assignment. Picture is studded with Fieldsian satire and cracks – many funny and several that slipped by the blue-pencil squad. Byplay and reference to hard liquor is prominent throughout.

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

Production

Universal. Director Edward Cline; Screenplay John T. Noville, Prescott Chaplin; Camera Charles Van Enger; Editor Arthur Hilton; Music Frank Skinner

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1941. Running time: 70 MIN.

With

W.C. Fields Gloria Jean Margaret Dumont Susan Miller Franklin Pangborn
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