movie review of I Dood It! (1943) starring Red Skelton, Eleanor Powell, directed by Vincente Minelli
The movie I Dood It! is a musical comedy, dealing with a romance between two unlikely people. Stage star Constance “Connie” Shaw (Eleanor Powell), and pants presser at a hotel Joe Renolds (Red Skelton). With lots of comedy and musical numbers in-between.
The movie begins with Connie Shaw dancing a very interesting “Dance of the Lariat“. This sets her character. She’s a successful dancing star on Broadway, who’s in love with her leading man. This segues to introducing Joe, played by Red Skelon. He’s a flunky pressing the pants of the people staying at the hotel where he works. His previous work ethic has been replaced by his “borrowing” expensive clothes, and wasting his money. All to see Connie’s nightly performance).
The play’s the thing
There’s a lot of inherent comedy. Red Skelton does it very well, making it clear to the audience (and the suffering people sitting next to him) that he knows the play better than the actors. A point that becomes important later.
Unknown to everyone, one of the leads in the play is actually a Nazi saboteur. He’s spending his spare time digging a hole into the warehouse next to the theater. It contains munitions for the American war effort, which he intends to destroy with a bomb. But that happens later. In the meantime, Connie is fighting for the affection of her co-star with her rich socialite rival Suetta (Patricia Dane) — and losing. After several altercations, there’s an accidental meeting in a club between Joe and Constance. It’s a very funny scene with Red Skelton at his best. Her boyfriend breaks Connies heart when he proposes to Suetta. In a moment of pique, Connie “proposes” to Joe in an effort to get even.
The love-struck Joe eagerly accepts. He can’t believe his good luck — as he tries to avoid his friend and boss. Who’s trying to track down both Joe and the missing clothes. There’s a very funny scene as Connie drinks the knock-out medicine that she’d intended for Joe. And the chivalrous Joe tries to lay her limp body on the bed to sleep. While he spends his wedding night sleeping in a chair. Connie and her friends mistakenly think that Joe is a millionaire having a stake in a gold mine. But the truth comes out eventually, with Red, believing that he doesn’t belong in Connie’s world, leaving.
Despondent, having lost his girl and his job, Joe’s only consolation comes from Connie’s maid Annette (played by Butterfly McQueen). And with her unwitting advice Joe tries to get back into Connie’s life. However, he’s been locked out of the theater so as not to interfere with Connie’s work. So Red Skelton works his comedy magic and sneaks in. He’s covered by a prolonged musical number. It features the singing of the beautiful Lena Horne and the piano skills of Hazel Scott. It‘s a very entertaining number, and I’m a huge fan of Lena Horne, but … The musical number is unnecessary, that could be cut from the film, and the story wouldn’t suffer. It’s too bad, since it’s such a beautiful number. But moving on …
Red is eventually discovered, but he manages to escape and make his way backstage. Where he manages to take over the role of one of the main characters in the play …. The role played by the Nazi saboteur. Red clowns around putting on his makeup. He’s a funny disaster on stage — where he realizes what the saboteur is up to, and decides to stop him! Everyone working at the theater is trying to stop him, not realizing what is at stake. Except for Connie, who stands up for “her Joe”. She helps him find the bomb in the nick of time.
The requisite happy ending to the movie comes from Joe taking the reward for capturing the saboteur and investing it in Connie’s next production. The movie ends with a final large musical number.
So, do I recommend I Dood It? Yes, with a few reservations; it’s a good movie, but I wouldn’t describe it as a great movie. For an introduction to Red Skelton, I’d frankly start with the Whistling in the Dark series. However, if you’re a Red Skelton fan (or an Eleanor Powell fan, for that matter) I would definitely add it. If I didn’t already have it.
Be sure to check out the funny movie quotes from I Dood It as well.
Trivia for I Dood It!
- Footage for the number “Swinging the Junx Away” was borrowed from Born to Dance (1936).
- Eleanor Powell reportedly knocked herself out cold during rehearsals for the lariat dance.
- Footage of the “Hawiian Medley” number was taken from Honolulu (1939).
- The title of the film is from a catchphrase used by Red Skelton. It comes from his radio show from “Junior, the Mean Widdle Kid”.
- According to M-G-M press materials, Buster Keaton served as technical advisor for some of the slapstick scenes in this film. It is a loose remake of Spite Marriage (1929) which starred Keaton in his second film under contract to M-G-M and his last silent film. Indeed, Red Skelton seems to exactly mimic many of Keaton’s gags from the earlier film.
Cast of characters
- Red Skelton … Joseph Rivington Renolds
- Eleanor Powell (Ship Ahoy, Lady Be Good) … Constance Shaw
- Richard Ainley (As You Like It 1936) … Larry West
- Patricia Dane (Life Begins for Andy Hardy) … Suretta Brenton
- Sam Levene (After the Thin Man) … Ed Jackson
- Thurston Hall (This Land Is Mine) … Kenneth Lawlor
- Lena Horne (Panama Hattie) … Lena Horne
- Hazel Scott (Broadway Rhythm) … Hazel Scott
- Jimmy Dorsey (Lost in a Harem) … Jimmy Dorsey
- Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra … Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra
- Helen O’Connell (The Fleet’s In) … Helen O’Connell
- Bob Eberly (The Fabulous Dorseys) … Bob Eberly
- John Hodiak (Swing Shift Maisie) … Roy Hartwood
- Butterfly McQueen (Gone with the Wind) … Annette
- Marjorie Gateson (Wife Versus Secretary) … Mrs. Spelvin
- Andrew Tombes (The Mad Ghoul) … Mr. Spelvin
- Morris Ankrum (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers) … Brinker
- Charles Judels (Du Barry Was a Lady) … Stage Manager
Updated October 1, 2022