in about 100 words or less
US 77m, B&W
Director: Edward F. Cline; Cast: W.C. Fields, Gloria Jean, Leon Errol, Franklin Pangborn, Margaret Dumont
With its title taken from the last scene of Poppy (1936), Never Give a Sucker an Even Break is a film about film, and a satirical play on the motion picture business. Playing himself, Fields pitches a ridiculous script to a movie studio executive who soundly rejects it, but not before it is played out within the film. As the vehicle for some of the film’s best gags, Fields’ script borrows from many of his previous films, which make it all the funnier premise. In his last starring role, the film generates sympathy for himself as an aging film star, and serves as his swan song – a last reminder of his pioneering contributions to the film industry as one of its greatest comedians (Klaus Ming January 2015).