You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939)

GEORGE MARSHALL

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  B

USA, 1939.  Story by , Screenplay by , , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Even fans of W.C. Fields will find little to enjoy in this drab comedy. He plays the owner of a struggling circus that is having a hard time keeping ahead of its debts. Fields needs to make money to keep his kids in school, his daughter contemplating marriage to a wealthy man she doesn’t love just because it makes sense financially. Edgar Bergen steals the show under the big top every night with his dual performing with his wisecracking dummy Charlie McCarthy, the two of them charming Fields’ daughter away from her rich suitor in no time flat (apparently she doesn’t mind a ventriloquist whose lips move more than his dummy’s!)  It’s a mild distraction at just over 80 minutes, but it is poorly accomplished, with a flat screenplay, lazy direction and far too little reliance on the great comedian’s talents to make it worth a glance beyond historical interest.

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