You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939)

“Wherever the people speak a civilized tongue, the name of Whipsnade is a household word!” W. C. Fields stars as “Larsen E. Whipsnade,” owner of the sleazy, near-bankrupt “Circus Giganticus” in this often hilarious, utterly lightweight comedy also scripted by Fields under the pseudonym “Charles Bogle.” The film also features the talents of renowned ventriloquist Edgar Bergen as “The Great Edgar” and his dummies “Charlie McCarthy” and “Mortimer Snerd.” The paper-thin plot has Whipsnade devising various schemes to keep the carnival afloat while trying to stay one step ahead of the law. He also desires to have his daughter “Vicky” (Constance Moore) married off to a young millionaire although she has fallen in love with Bergen. Highlights include Whipsnade casually ripping off customers, Whipsnade as bearded lady bareback rider “Buffalo Bella,” Whipsnade trying his hand at ventriloquism with disastrous results, the hot-air balloon, an infamous ping-pong game and a hilarious escape from the engagement party aboard a chariot. The cast includes Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and Grady Sutton. Director George Marshall clashed with Fields so often that the actor managed to replace him with Eddie Cline, who later directed Fields in The Bank Dick (1940), My Little Chickadee (1940) and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941).     

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