“I Dood It” (1943). I can’t believe they used this ridiculous phrase as the title of a movie. “I Dood It” isn’t really a movie anyway, as much as it is a series of musical and comedic sketches grouped together. The little plot that does exist is centered around Broadway star Constance Shaw (Eleanor Powell), and the poor, common man, Joe (Red Skelton), who falls in love with her. She, in turn, is in love with someone else (at least she thinks she is), so in order to make him jealous, Constance marries Joe, believing that he is rich and successful.
The arbitrary story makes “I Dood It” an easily forgettable film. Red Skelton and Eleanor Powell, however, dood their best to save it at every turn. The dance numbers make things worthwhile, especially Powell’s opening performance, dressed as a cowgirl, tapping away in boots, lasso in hand, impressing with the long, uncut takes masterfully directed by Minnelli. This truly is the highlight of the picture, and is so good that you’ll want to go back and watch it again. It is an extremely complex number, and one that deserves to be showcased, illustrating how far her talents could stretch. Of course, as an enormous fan of Powell, I will always find reasons to sing her praises. All of her dances in “I Dood It” are incredible… that is, except for the big finish, which is just stolen from Powell’s earlier movie, “Born to Dance” (1936)- but it was good the first time, and is still enjoyable in this movie, just not original. That’s just awful and cheap MGM, and I for one, am hugely disappointed. How could they dood that?
Red Skelton is as funny as ever, even when recycling jokes from earlier film performances. It doesn’t really matter because he has the ability to be funny in so many ways, he’s bound to get you smiling one way or the other. The scenes that he shares with Powell are particularly special. Her physical abilities are undeniable, but it’s her comedic skills here that are a bit of a pleasant surprise. The scene where she accidentally drinks a glass of champagne with multiple sleeping pills inside is her comedic highlight, as Skelton attempts to put her to bed, without any of her help. “I Dood It” is based on the Buster Keaton film, “Spite Marriage” (1929), and Keaton was known to work with Skelton on many of his physical sketches. Odds are, he was involved here as well.
Besides the obvious lack of plot, the other reason “I Dood It” suffers is because it tries to incorporate other musical numbers into the film, even though they had nothing to do with the story. Jimmy Dorsey and his band, Hazel Scott, and the great Lena Horne, (one of my favorites) all offer a little something special to the production, even if for no reason. Don’t get me wrong, these performances are wonderful and entertaining on their own, but because they don’t fit into the plot, they end up just dragging the flow of the film, and increasing the running time.
You would think that Minnelli, Skelton, Powell and Horne would be able to put something special and memorable together, but alas, that is not the case. They just can’t dood it. I mean do it.