"Never give a sucker an even break."
Description: Words of wisdom spoken by Professor Eustace McGargle (W. C. Fields), a conniving patent-medicine salesman in the motion picture Poppy (1936).
With the law on his heels, McGargle speaks honestly with his adopted daughter/now heiress Poppy (Rochelle Hudson) and reveals that he is not her real father. He found Poppy abandoned in a circus when she was three years old.
He also tells Poppy, "And if we should ever separate, my little plum, I want to give you one little piece of fatherly advice — 'Never give a sucker an even break'.”
McGargle’s philosophy in life is to “Take from the rich and give to the poor." When Poppy asks, “What poor?” McGargle says “Us poor.”
To get free food at a carnival, Field takes Poppy to a hot dog stand, eats half of the dogs and when asked to pays 20 cents, tells the proprietor "Very reasonable, I shall pay you at the conclusion of our engagement."
When the man says “Oh, no you won’t. You’ll pay me right now,” Fields and Poppy take umbrage at the man’s attitude and leave what they have not eaten on the counter. The vendor call his customers tramps, looks at the half eaten hot dogs and asks “How am I gonna sell these again?” Fields retorts, "First you insult me, then you ask my advice concerning salesmanship. You, Sir, are a dunce, a DUNCE!"
Earlier in the film, Oulietta Hemoglobin (Susan Miller) sees McGargle’s large nose and asks her mother (Margaret Dumont), “Do you think he drinks?” Mama replies, “He didn’t get that nose from playing ping-pong.”
See also - You Can't Cheat An Honest Man
Note: In the film You Can‘t Cheat an Honest Man (1939) W. C. Fields as Larsen E. Whipsnade says, “As my dear old grandfather Litvak said (just before they swung the trap), he said, 'You can’t cheat an honest man. Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump'.” The "sucker" adage was also used as the title of the W.C. Fields movie Never Give A Sucker an Even Break (1941).
Another remark attributed to movie actor W.C. Fields: “Any man that hates small dogs and children can’t be all-bad!” The statement is actually the opinion of Leo Rosten, a writer commenting on Field’s comedy persona.
Field’s dislike for children (and dogs) in films produced such famous sayings as “Go away kid, you bother me (or “you draw flies”) to child actor Baby Leroy. Other Field’s opinion on children included:
- “There’s no such thing as a tough child. If you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender”
- “I believe children should neither be seen nor heard from ever again.”
- "You kids are disgusting! Standing around here all day, reeking of popcorn and lollipops."
In the motion picture Cactus Flower (1969) Goldie Hawn as Toni Simmons gets a W. C. Fields like answer from her acquaintance Harvey Greenfield (Jack Weston), who says “How do you like children?...Barbecued!”