Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), in which W. C. Fields, as himself, attempts to sell an “impossible, inconceivable, incomprehensible” screenplay to the studio.
In Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, we have the swan song of W. C. Fields. It’s his last starring role, due in many ways to his failing health. The basic plot has “The Great Man” (W. C. Fields) trying to sell a movie script at a movie studio. He’s shown disrespect or disinterest by everyone except Gloria Jean, playing the part of his adoring niece. There are significant stretches of time when W. C. Fields isn’t on screen, and it’s not that those scenes aren’t funny—they actually are—but it’s not what I’m expecting in a W. C. Fields movie.
When The Great Man is on the screen, it’s funny—although in a more subdued way than in his earlier films, but given his age at the time he made the film, it’s not surprising. He has several antagonists throughout the film, including an overbearing (and overweight) waitress, a large Turkish man on an airplane, and his own greediness, leading to an attempt to woo Margaret Dumont (best known for her roles with the Marx Brothers). The movie ends with what people have described as the wildest car chase scene that’s ever been filmed—and justly so.
Editorial review of Never Give a Sucker an Even Break courtesy of Amazon.com
The essential Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), in which Fields, as himself, attempts to sell an “impossible, inconceivable, incomprehensible” screenplay to the studio. Fields films are more deliberately paced than the Marx Brothers’ manic romps, all the better to savor Fields’ way with words (“what fulgent sunshine,” “this mundane sphere”).