Never Give A Sucker An Even Break (1941) – Edward F. Cline

DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies continues to make a monkey out of me with their chapter on monstrous apes as it doles out another comedic entry.

That being said, I’m not a W.C. Fields fan. His character is always the same, and is extremely unlikable as far as I’m concerned. He’s an alcoholic, and a sexist, wandering about on his white privilege with a care in the world.

This is also a bit of a surreal entry as we follow Fields’ pitch to a film producer for his next film, which he wants to star in with his niece, Gloria Jean (played by Gloria Jean). It’s a bizarre story including a beautiful woman, Ouilotta Hemoglobin (Susan Miller) and her mother (Margaret Dumont) living atop a mountain top with a giant, mountain climbing gorilla, Gargo (Emil Van Horn in an ape suit).

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There is wacky comedy, insulting remarks traded by all parties, and surreal moments as Fields jumps freely from a flying airplane to recover his dropped bottle. There are a number of silly things going on throughout the film, mainly, I think to serve as little asides instead of pushing a cohesive story forward. That and a lot of musical numbers.

Before I was introduced to Fields in this film, I had this impression that he would be a witty character filled capable of witty linguistic acrobatics, but instead he just seems a bit of a boor, and wants to annoy everyone.

Production wise, it’s a fairly solidly made film, with impressive special effects, given the time. Climbing up or coming down from the Hemoglobins’ mountain features some nice work, the costumes, specifically the gorilla suit, are a little questionable.

Because of Fields, however, I couldn’t get into the film, which could have been real fun, but without an ability to relate to any of the characters, I was left a little adrift on this one.

Still, there are more ape films coming my way as I delve deeper into the jungles that fill the monstrous apes chapter of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies. And like I said before, they aren’t all going to be winners, but they are going to be entertaining, and highlights some of the wonderful creature, effects, and horror work that goes into creating some of the most famous, infamous, and forgotten monsters that inhabit the world of darkened movie theatres.

Pick up a copy for yourself and find something to watch tonight!

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