You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939)

USA, 1939
35mm film, black and white, 1.37:1
mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic), English

An American comedy film with some fantasy moments directed by George Marshall.

Plot Summary

Larson E. Whipsnade’s Circus Giganticus is on its last legs, his performers are a troublesome lot, especially ventriloquist The Great Edgar and his dummy Charlie McCarthy and his children, Phineas and Victoria, are away at an expensive college. Victoria initially rebuffs the amorous advances of the wealthy Roger Bel-Goodie, but changes her mind when she learns that the circus is in such dire straits.


Directed by: George Marshall
© MCMXXXIX [1939] by Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Universal presents
Produced by: Lester Cowan
Screenplay: George Marion Jr, Richard Mack, Everett Freeman
Story by: Charles Bogle
Director of Photography: Milton Krasner
Film Editor: Otto Ludwig
Musical Director: Charles Previn
Sound Supervisor: Bernard B. Brown
Gowns: Vera West
Art Director: Jack Otterson

W.C. Fields (Larson E. Whipsnade)
Edgar Bergen (The Great Edgar)
Charlie McCarthy (by himself)
Constance Moore (Victoria Whipsnade)
John Arledge (Phineas Whipsnade)
James Bush (Roger Bel-Goodie)
Thurston Hall (Mr Bel-Goodie)
Mary Forbes (Mrs Bel-Goodie)
Edward Brophy (Corbett)
Arthur Hohl (Burr)
Princess Baba (Princess Baba)
Blacaman (by himself)
Eddie Anderson (Cheerful)

Alternative Titles

A mí no me engaña nadie – Mexican title
Ehrlich währt am längsten – German title
Le cirque en folie – French title
Mej lurar ni inte – Swedish title, Swedish Finnish title
Nar aldrig en ærlig Mand – Danish title
Quem Mal Anda, Mal Acaba – Brazilian title
Quem Torto Nasce – Portuguese title
Reilua miestä ei voi pettää – Finnish title
Sans peur et sans reproche – French title
Ты не можешь обмануть честного человека – Russian title
あきれたサーカス – Japanese title

Extracts included in
The Great Man: W.C. Fields (2005)
W.C. Fields: Straight Up (1986)


Film Weekly vol.21 no.557 (17 June 1939) p.31
Kine Weekly no.1666 (23 March 1939)
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.6 no.64 (April 1939) p.77
Motion Picture Herald vol.134 no.7 (18 February 1939)
Motion Picture Herald vol.166 no.11 (15 March 1947)
Silver Screen vol.9 no.7 (May 1939) pp.59-60