Don’t Tell the Wife (1937)
Directed by Christy Cabanne with a screenplay by Nat Perrin that was based on the George Holland play “Once Over Lightly” this B movie comedy isn’t anything special (it underutilizes a cast filled with talented character actors) but the story does move quickly through a one hour running time such that it should keep the interest of an undemanding audience.
Having just gotten out of prison (where George Irving plays the warden) for a similar scheme (a character played by) Thurston Hall with his old gang of con men Lynne Overman Thurston Hall Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams William Demarest and Harry Tyler (along with Lucille Ball whom they hire as their phony business’s receptionist) have hatched a plan to scam newfound monies out of unsuspecting persons at the end of the Depression by selling them shares in a thought-to-be worthless New Mexico gold mine. But gentleman farmer Overman is the only one who has the money to fund their front and his wife (played by Una Merkel) controls the purse-strings. So the men deceive Guy Kibbee’s character who happens to have the same last name as a well known wealthy family (Winthrop) into being their new enterprise’s chairman in order to convince her it’s legitimate.
Unfortunately ignorant Kibbee commits mail fraud such that the Feds (Frank M. Thomas) are ready to put everyone away. However when Kibbee finally discovers that he’s been duped along with Merkel he takes matters into his own hands and lo & behold discovers (from Si Jenks’s character) that the gold mine is really loaded such that he’s able to save the day. Bradley Page plays a salesman hired to sell the sham stock; Hattie McDaniel appears uncredited as Merkel’s housekeeper.