I DOOD IT
(director: Vincente Minnelli; screenwriters: Sig Herzig/Fred Saidy; cinematographer: Ray June; editor: Robert J. Kern; music director: George Stoll; cast: Eleanor Powell (Constance Shaw), Red Skelton (Joseph Rivington Reynolds), Sam Levene (Ed Jackson), Lena Horne (Herself), Hazel Scott (Herself), Jimmy Dorsey (Himself), Richard Ainley (Larry West), Patricia Dane (Suretta Brenton), John Hodiak (Roy Hartwood), Thurston Hall (Kenneth Lawlor), Butterfly McQueen (Connie’s Maid); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jack Cummings; MGM; 1943)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Almost a complete remake of Buster Keaton’s Spite Marriage; Keaton was the designated gag writer on the set. Director Vincente Minnelli called it his worst picture, somehow forgetting a clunker like A Matter of Time. The stiff musical-comedy is set during the WW11 era and it’s a stinker. Pants-presser Joseph Rivington Reynolds (Red Skelton) works in the valet tailor shop of Ed Jackson (Sam Levene), located in Manhattan’s ritzy Park Savoy hotel. He’s wild about Broadway dancing and stage star Constance Shaw (Eleanor Powell) and attends every performance of the Civil War stage show she’s in, dressing up by borrowing a tuxedo from the tailor shop. Joe buys a a ticket to kiss Connie at a USO Bazaar benefit show and ends up getting a big kiss when she eyes her costar and two-timing fiance Larry West (Richard Ainley) making time with wealthy producer Suretta Brenton (Patricia Dane). A few more incidents showing Larry to be an unfaithful cad leaves Connie going into a jealous temper tantrum and to get revenge she marries out of spite the first man available, who happens to be Joe. She mistakenly thinks he owns a gold mine, which makes Broadway theater owner Kenneth Lawlor happy that he can get Joe to be an angel for his next show. Connie realizes she knows nothing about her hubby and decides to drop some sleeping pills in his drink on their wedding night, but mistakenly takes them instead. The next morning Ed comes to the couple’s suite to retrieve his worker and informs Connie that she married a pants-presser. She gives him the boot, but Joe wants only a word with her to explain and goes backstage of her Civil War play. There he runs into actor Roy Hartwood (John Hodiak), who works for a Nazi spy ring that is tunneling into a warehouse next door that has explosives. The Nazis have a bomb prepared to explode a submarine in Gravesend, but Joe catches on to the plot and thwarts the Nazis. He gets a big reward for their arrest and wins the heart of Connie.
Lena Horne, Hazel Scott and Jimmy Dorsey provide some of the musical numbers, while the film’s finale is ripped off from the 1936 Eleanor Powell musical Born to Dance. The songs sung include “Star Eyes” and “Taking a Chance.”
Red is no Buster, therefore the comedy is lame and without an edge. The music numbers are lively but not interesting. It’s a patchwork film that doesn’t have much going for it but chutzpah.
REVIEWED ON 7/19/2005 GRADE: C-