Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)

In another of W.C. Field's unusual comedies - directed by Edward F. Cline, with off-beat humor, double-takes, broad comedy and priceless lines and sketches:

  • in the opening scene, on the way to Esoteric Studios, scriptwriter Great Man's (W.C. Fields) walk when he stopped to admire a billboard sign for his most recent movie (The Bank Dick (1940)) - but he was insulted by two boys who criticized his film, calling it a "Buptkie"; he also made a pass at a pretty girl: "Hi ya tootie-pie. Everything under control?" but didn't realize she was accompanied by a husky enraged boyfriend, and he was punched in the face and knocked over a gate - he declared: "All five of 'em hit me at once"
  • the Great Man's two very funny restaurant ordering scenes in the Cozy Corner Cafe - a greasy-spoon restaurant with a tough, obnoxious, fat waitress named Tiny (Jody Gilbert); he asked: "Is there any goulash on this menu?"; she wiped a spot off the menu and replied: "It's roast beef gravy"; then, he asked about the steak: "Is that steak New York cut?"; she crossed if off the menu because it was unavailable. Pouring him a glass of ice water, she became distracted and he ended up with the overflow on his lap. He joked: "No extra charge for the cold shower, I hope"; struggling to order something, he asked: "Do you think it's too hot for pork chops?" That also was crossed off the menu, along with a number of other items. He wondered: "That, uh, practically, uh, eliminates everything but ham and eggs...No ham." He was forced to order two four-minute eggs in a cup, white bread, and milk, causing him to mutter: " I don't know why I ever come in here - the flies get the best of everything."
The Cozy Corner Cafe
Trying to Order from Obnoxious Waitress Tiny
Tiny: "Don't be so free with your hands!"
  • during his second visit to the restaurant with the fleshy waitress, he told her: "I didn't squawk about the steak, dear. I merely said I didn't see that old horse that used to be tethered outside here" - and then insultingly commented on her big behind: "There's something awfully big about you too"; when he paid his tab, she advised: "And another thing, don't be so free with your hands" - to which he replied: "Listen honey. I was only trying to guess your weight. You take things too seriously"
  • while waiting in the Producer's outer office at the studio, the Great Man listened to the receptionist's (Carlotta Monti) loud conversation on a phone, and quipped about one of her lines: "Drown in a vat of whiskey. Death where is thy sting?"
  • the middle section of the film was a re-enactment of the Great Man's fanciful script about his improbable adventures, including the scene of his flying over Mexico with his niece Gloria Jean (Gloria Jean playing herself); while sitting in the open-air rear observation platform deck (an impossibility), he recited another memorable one-liner about his broken romance with a beautiful blonde: "I was in love with a beautiful blonde once, dear. She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I'm indebted to her for"
  • his diving to retrieve his precious bottle of booze which he had accidentally knocked over the side while gesturing; he made a drunken free-fall dive from out of the airplane; catching up with the bottle as he fell thousands of feet to the ground, he landed on a giant mattress in a strange mountain cliff-top retreat in a strange country (Ruritania), bouncing about a dozen times until he came to rest, and then asked himself: "Why didn't I think of that parachute? What a bump!"
  • the game of "squidgulum" (a variation on 'Post Office', a kissing game) that he played with the lovely, nubile and virginal Ouliotta Delight Hemoglobin (Susan Miller) who claimed that she had never met a man before; she placed her hands on her head and closed her eyes, as he kissd her twice
  • when they were interrupted by her aggressive mother, wealthy, matronly and black-robed Mrs. Hemoglobin (Margaret Dumont) with a ferocious mastiff guard dog with fangs, she wanted to join in the kissing game; he ran to escape and avoid kissing her, and fell in a large basket off the cliff of her mountain top retreat; when it crash landed and he fell to the ground, he remarked: "What a catastrophe!"
  • during a second fast exit from the mountain top to avoid marriage to Mrs. Hemoglobin, the Great Man jumped in the cliff-side basket with Gloria Jean, and as he looked down, he noted: "Don't start worrying until we get down to one-thousand, nine-hundred, and ninety-nine. It's the last foot that's dangerous"
  • the final ten minutes - the Great Man's mad drive through downtown LA to take an oversized woman (he presumed she was pregnant) to visit the maternity hospital (borrowed for Abbott and Costello's In Society (1944)), with a police escort from cops on motorcycles, sirens blaring; after many near-misses and collisions, his car's roof was tangled up with the hook and ladder of a fire-engine, and his car was hoisted high into the air and then dumped back onto the highway; he narrowly missed pedestrians and other cars in the frantic ride to the hospital; his wrecked and disintegrating car finally came to a halt next to the "Maternity Hospital Quiet!" sign, where he was left holding only the steering wheel in his hands. Hospital orderlies rushed out with a stretcher and wheeled the unconscious passenger into the delivery room - she recovered consciousness just in time to berate the hospital staff. The Great Man staggered at the crash site, musing: "Lucky I didn't have an accident...I would have never gotten here"
Mad Drive Through Los Angeles

Insulted by Two Boys

Punched by Hunky Boyfriend

"Drown in a vat of whiskey. Death where is thy sting?"

"She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I'm indebted to her for"

Diving After His Bottle of Booze From Plane

Kissing Game with Young Ouliotta Delight Hemoglobin

With Mrs. Hemoglobin

Crash-Landing in Basket

The Mountain-top Retreat

About to be Married to Mrs. Hemoglobin

The Second Time in a Falling Basket


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