You Can't Cheat An Honest Man

  • 1939
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy

Universal Studios waved big money under comedian Fields's legendary proboscis and wooed him away from Paramount. In his first film for his new studio, Fields returned to the kind of character he loved best--a terminally broke and nomadic huckster who must live by his wits to stay one step ahead of the law. Owner of "Larson E. Whipsnade's Circus Giganticus,"...read more

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Universal Studios waved big money under comedian Fields's legendary proboscis and wooed him away from Paramount. In his first film for his new studio, Fields returned to the kind of character he loved best--a terminally broke and nomadic huckster who must live by his wits to stay one

step ahead of the law. Owner of "Larson E. Whipsnade's Circus Giganticus," Fields is first seen hustling his caravan of wagons over the county line to escape the police he had angered at his previous stop. While setting up tents in a new town, Fields is confronted by ventriloquist Bergen and his

smart-aleck dummy Charlie McCarthy. The two are the bane of Fields's existence, but he cannot fire them because of a strange clause in their contract. Luckily for Fields, Bergen has decided to quit because he hasn't been paid in months. The ventriloquist quickly changes his mind, however, when he

meets Fields's beautiful daughter, Moore.

Like most Fields vehicles, YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN is a virtually plotless array of hilarious verbal and visual gags designed to make the most of the comedian's prodigious talents. The script was actually a reworking of two previous projects, a rejected screenplay titled "Grease Paint,"

written by H.M. Walker in 1933, with added plot lines from Fields' silent movie TWO FLAMING YOUTHS. Once again Fields wrote the story under the pseudonym of "Charles Bogle," but Universal and director Marshall removed several important scenes that Fields felt were essential to his character

development. In the film, Fields seems to be an entirely unlikable character with little or no compassion for his workers or family. In the script, Fields began the film with a tender scene where his wife, a trapeze artist who has suffered a fall, dies in his arms. Despite--or perhaps because

of--trimmings of this nature, YOU CAN'T CHEAT is one of Fields's most sustained comic triumphs, containing several classic moments.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Universal Studios waved big money under comedian Fields's legendary proboscis and wooed him away from Paramount. In his first film for his new studio, Fields returned to the kind of character he loved best--a terminally broke and nomadic huckster who must… (more)

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