Poppy (1936 film)

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Directed byA. Edward Sutherland
Written byWaldemar Young
Virginia Van Upp
Based onPoppy
by Dorothy Donnelly
Produced byPaul Jones
William LeBaron
StarringW. C. Fields
Rochelle Hudson
Richard Cromwell
Catherine Doucet
CinematographyWilliam C. Mellor
Edited byStuart Heisler
Music byFriedrich Hollaender
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
June 17, 1936
Running time
73 minutes
CountryUnited States

Poppy is a 1936 comedy film starring W. C. Fields and Rochelle Hudson. The film was based on a 1923 stage revue of the same name starring Fields and Madge Kennedy. This was the second film version of the revue featuring Fields, following Sally of the Sawdust in 1925 with Carol Dempster in the title role.[1][2]


Eustace McGargle , a con artist, snake oil salesman and shell game trickster, tries to escape the sheriff while taking care of his beloved adopted daughter Poppy, who, after pretending to be an heiress to win an inheritance, is found to be an actual heiress.[3]



Fields was suffering the effects of his heavy drinking and he injured his back during the making of the film. As a result, his performance may have suffered.[4] Fields was ill during the production, and a fairly obvious double was used in several scenes requiring physical exertion.


In a contemporary review for The New York Times, critic Frank Nugent called Poppy a "glorious victory" for Fields and for comedy while conceding that the scenes without Fields were "painfully frail" and would provoke some squirming and eye-rolling.[5]

Writing for The Spectator in 1936, Graham Greene offered a positive review, commenting that "Mr. Fields has never acted better." Comparing Fields' characterization to those of Charlie Chaplin, Greene noted that Fields "wins our hearts not by a display of Chaplin sentiment, not by class solidarity (he robs the poor as promptly as the rich), but simply by the completeness of his dishonesty."[6]


"Never give a sucker an even break" was nominated for the American Film Institute's 2005 list AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes.[7]


  1. ^ Slide, Anthony (2012). The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 178. ISBN 9781617032509.
  2. ^ Menefee, David W. (2004). The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era. ISBN 9780275982591.
  3. ^ Bordman, Gerald (2001). American Musical Theater:A Chronicle. Oxford UP. p. 428. ISBN 9780195130744.
  4. ^ "Poppy". The Age of Comedy. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  5. ^ Nugent, Frank S (June 18, 1936). "Movie Review: Poppy (1936)". New York Times.
  6. ^ Greene, Graham (17 July 1936). "Poppy/Living Dangerously/Charlie Chan at the Circus". The Spectator. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. pp. 87–88. ISBN 0192812866.)
  7. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-30.

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