Kehr Capsule of the Week: Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)

W.C. Fields in full dementia. The story (written by Fields under the pseudonym Otis Criblecoblis) has him diving from an airplane in pursuit of a dropped bottle of booze; he lands in the mountaintop home of Mrs. Hemoglobin (Margaret Dumont), whose teenage charge (Gloria Jean) promptly falls in love with him. This 1941 film has an alcoholic haze about it: nothing’s very funny, but it’s all pretty strange, and it just keeps staggering from one bizarrely conceived incident to the next. Edward Cline’s direction is lumpy and prosaic, which takes the shine off the surrealism. With Leon Errol and Franklin Pangborn.


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