Combustible Celluloid
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With: W. C. Fields, Gloria Jean, Leon Errol, Margaret Dumont, Charles Lang, Susan Miller
Written by: John T. Neville, Prescott Chaplin, based on a story by Otis Criblecoblis (W.C. Fields)
Directed by: Edward F. Cline
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 71
Date: 10/10/1941

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Kitten's Stockings

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In his last starring role, W.C. Fields plays a version of himself, a Hollywood star who is seen staring at a poster for The Bank Dick (1940), Field's real-life previous movie. There are several sketches, such as Fields trying to order lunch in the world's worst diner. He's also the uncle of rising teen star Gloria Jean; she sings a song at Esoteric Pictures studios and he pitches an idea for his next movie. It's a bizarre, surreal story about a beautiful woman (Susan Miller) living in a mountaintop castle whose mother (Margaret Dumont) keeps her hidden from the world. Fields's character discovers the castle by jumping out of a plane to retrieve his fallen flask! Once the script pitch is finished, the movie goes off in other directions, never bothering with much of a plot or cohesion. Fields would have been about 60 at the time, and he looks ill and frail, which makes some of the humor rather bittersweet. But nonetheless, the movie has many solid laughs, and Fields fans will definitely want to see it. Fields wrote the original story under the pseudonym "Otis Criblecoblis." Kino Lorber released a spiffy Blu-ray in 2020, complete with a useful commentary track by historian Eddy Von Mueller, a short documentary, and trailers for other Kino Lorber comedies.

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