Never Say Die (1939 film)

Never Say Die is a 1939 romantic comedy film starring Martha Raye and Bob Hope. Based on a play of the same title by William H. Post and William Collier Sr.,[1] which ran on Broadway for 151 performances in 1912,[2] the film was directed by Elliott Nugent and written for the screen by Dan Hartman, Frank Butler and Preston Sturges. The supporting cast features Andy Devine, Alan Mowbray, Gale Sondergaard, Sig Ruman and Monty Woolley.

Never Say Die
VHS cover
Directed byElliott Nugent
Produced byPaul Jones
Written byPlay:
William H. Post
William Collier Sr.
Dan Hartman
Frank Butler
Preston Sturges
StarringMartha Raye
Bob Hope
Music bySongs:
Ralph Rainger (music)
Leo Robin (lyrics)
Charles Bradshaw
John Leipold
Leo Shuken
CinematographyLeo Tover
Edited byJames Smith
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 9, 1939 (1939-03-09) (New York City)
  • April 14, 1939 (1939-04-14) (United States)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Post/Collier play had previously been adapted in 1924 as a silent film of the same name[3] and was remade as the 2004 South Korean film Someone Special. Other films with the same or similar titles are not related.


When test results get mixed up, multi-millionaire hypochondriac John Kidley (Bob Hope) is told that he only has a month to live. He dumps his fiancee, Juno Marko (Gale Sondergaard), and heads for the Swiss spa of Bad Gaswasser, where he meets a young Texas heiress, Mickey Hawkins (Martha Raye).

Mickey has been betrothed to the fortune-hunting Prince Smirnow (Alan Mowbray), but is in love with Henry Munch (Andy Devine), a bus driver from back home. Believing he is dying, and wanting to help out, John suggests that he and Mickey get married, planning on leaving her his fortune so that she can marry who she wants when he's gone. On their honeymoon, with Henry along as a chaperone, the couple fall in love for real, although, of course, they don't realize it right away.

Eventually, John bests the Prince in a duel, Henry and Juno get engaged, and John and Mickey get to stay together.[4][5]


Cast notes:

  • Hans Conried has a small uncredited part, only his second film appearance.[6]
  • Albert Dekker, who plays the uncredited role of "Kidley's second" was an established Broadway star[7] before turning to film acting.[8]



Never Say Die was originally slated to star Jack Benny and Franciska Gaal, under the direction of Raoul Walsh and produced by Arthur Hornblow Jr.[10] The film was in production from early October to early December 1938, and premiered in New York on 9 March 1939.[11] It went into general release on 14 April of that year.[12]


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