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Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

USA 1941
produced by
directed by Edward F. Cline
starring W.C. Fields, Gloria Jean, Leon Errol, Billy Lenhart, Kenneth Brown, Margaret Dumont, Susan Miller, Franklin Pangborn, Mona Barrie, Charles Lang, Anne Nagel, Nell O'Day, Irving Bacon, Jody Gilbert, Minerva Urecal, Emmett Vogan, Carlotta Monti, and as gorilla Emil Van Horn
story by Otis Criblecoblis (= W.C. Fields), screenplay by Prescott Chaplin, John T.Neville, music by Frank Skinner

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Gloria Jean is a successful actress and singer with Esoteric Studios, and in that capacity she is able to get her uncle W.C. Fields an appointment with the studio's producer (Franklin Pangborn) to pitch his latest script.

The script is wild beyond belief, since it has Fields and Gloria Jean travelling over Russia in a plane with sun deck, and eventually Fields falls off the sun deck 10,000 feet right onto the bed of a pretty girl (Susan Miller) that stops his fall. The girl lives on a reclusive mountain top guarded by a gorilla (Emil Van Horn) with her mother (Margaret Dumont) and has never seen a man ... and soon enough, Fields tricks her into kissing him. Doing this, they are caught by her mother, who wants to be kissed by Fields, too, but he's so turned off by her looks that he makes a hasty escape down the mountain. In the valley below, Fields is reunited with his niece - but also learns that the ugly mother owns a great fortune, so he and his niece make it up the mountain again with a priest to marry Fields to the mother ... only to make another escape once Gloria Jean reminds Fields that in order to get his hands on her money, he has to live with the mother for the rest of his life.

The producere is furious about the stupidity of Fields' script and throws him out. Gloria Jean, who loves her uncle more than her career, leaves the premises with him though.

Driving to God-knows-where, Fields picks up a woman on her way to the maternity ward of the hospital, and Fields automatically assumes she's pregnant (she's not) and races her to the hospital in a sequence that involves a firetruck and several police motorbikes, and that wrecks half the cars of the city, including Fields' own. But even that can't shatter Gloria Jean's belief in her uncle ...


Objectively speaking, this film is a mess, it's narrative structure is all wrong, the film falls into little more than loosely to not-at-all connected sequences, the film-within-a-film makes no sense in itself or in the context of the plot, and the finale (the carchase scene) seems to be tagged on rather than caused by preceding events. All that is objectively speaking of course ... but you really can't watch a comedy objectively, now can you?

True, all of aobve points are absolutely correct, but they don't say anything about the brilliant comedy that was worked into the patchwork plot (including several scenes fields isn't even in) and about the incredibly well-conceived (and wickedly funny) chase scene at the end of the film. Sure, the film's script could have done with some polish, but maybe that would have ruined the comedy rather than made the film better ...

Anyways, watch it as it is, you won't be disappointed.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD