“You can’t cheat an honest man. Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.”
Larson E. Whipsnade (W.C. Fields) attempts to save his seedy circus from financial ruin while feuding with his ventriloquist employee (Edgar Bergen) and Bergen’s dummy (Charlie McCarthy).
Response to Peary’s Review:
Viewed by most critics and fans as a “lesser” W.C. Fields comedy, You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man nonetheless remains a genuinely amusing film — indeed, my already substantial list of “redeeming moments” below could easily have been longer. And while I agree with Peary that far too much screen time is given to Bergen and McCarthy (who do slow down the proceedings quite a bit), I’ll admit I enjoyed getting to see this well-known duo on film at least once. In future viewings, I’ll simply cut straight to scenes with the infamously obnoxious Fields, who never fails to delight.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Whipsnade ruining a posh party by playing ping pong
- Whipsnade attempting to gyp his customers at the ticket booth
- Whipsnade taking a shower, courtesy of his elephant, “Queenie”
Whipsnade’s “naked” walk across the circus grounds
- Whipsnade’s interactions with McCarthy, especially when he throws the dummy into a pit of live alligators
- Whipsnade bragging about his skills as a big game hunter
No, but it’s recommended.