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Sunday, June 8, 2008

YOU CAN’T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN (1939)

Kid-friendly W. C. Fields pic is disappointingly aimed squarely at the family radio audience (hence Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy) and never rises to the Dadaist heights of the great man’s final two outbursts (THE BANK DICK & YOU CAN’T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN) from 1940. Not that there aren’t pleasures to be had as Fields runs his threadbare circus & deconstructs a society shindig. But we keep stopping for good-natured ribbing between man & puppet when Fields’ true nature & genius lies in his lack of kidding. Throttling that wooden-necked doll can’t compare to threatening a live Baby Leroy.

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