Excuse My Dust (1951) starring Red Skelton, Sally Forrest, MacDonald Carey, William Demarest
Excuse My Dust is a musical vehicle for Red Skelton, set in 1895, that deals with the issues of progress and the resistance to it. It stars Red Skelton as Joe Belden, a young inventor who’s determined to build a “horseless carriage”. This complicates things, since he’s in love with Liz Bullitt (Sally Forrest), whose father (played by William Demarest, best remembered for his role of Uncle Charlie on My Three Sons) runs the local livery stable, and sees the horseless carriage as a threat to his livelihood.
Joe Belden/Red Skelton has a rival for her affections in the obnoxious Cyrus Random, Jr. (MacDonald Carey), who undermines his efforts at every turn. Random goes so far as to buy his own “horseless carriage”. So he can compete with Joe in an upcoming race with a $5,000.00 prize. The money that Joe wants to use to open a “gasmobile” factory and be financially able to start a family.
Another fly in the ointment is Daisy Lou Shultzer (Monica Lewis), who has just returned from two weeks in Paris, and sets her eyes on Joe as well.
Red Skelton is as funny as usual, with several funny scenes (specifically when the local fire department tries to put out his barn fire, and the final car race.) However, there are also way too many musical numbers. At one point while watching the movie to review, I said out loud “Not another musical number!” In my humble opinion, a good musical has each number being an essential part of the story. Without the number, the story can’t be told as well.
Unfortunately, in Excuse My Dust, there are several numbers that could be cut entirely from the film, and their loss wouldn’t be noticed. The most notable example would be an extended dream sequence where Sally Forrest dances in 1950’s fashion. This is a pity, since Red Skelton and musicals typically go well together, such as Three Little Words and DuBarry was a Lady.
It should be mentioned that the romantic undertone is actually the best part of the film. Red/Joe alternately feuds with his girlfriend and makes up. And William Demarest is a delight as the grumpy father. There’s also an underlying story of Jazz music, with a wonderful musical number “Lorelei Brown” that was very enjoyable. I enjoyed watching Excuse My Dust, but I’ll admit to using the fast-forward button on my remote on at least one musical number. I only rate it 2 clowns out of 5.
Musical numbers from Excuse My Dust
- I’d Like to Take You Out Dreaming. Music by Arthur Schwartz, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Performed by Macdonald Carey and Chorus.
- Lorelei Brown. Music by Arthur Schwartz, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Performed by Monica Lewis and Chorus, introduced by Herbert Anderson and Sally Forrest.
- Goin’ Steady. Music by Arthur Schwartz, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Sung by Macdonald Carey, Monica Lewis, Sally Forrest, Red Skelton and Chorus.
- Spring Has Sprung. Music by Arthur Schwartz, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Performed by Red Skelton and Sally Forrest (dubbed by Gloria Gray).
- Get a Horse. Music by Arthur Schwartz, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Performed by Macdonald Carey, William Demarest and Chorus.
- That’s for Children. Music by Arthur Schwartz, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Performed by Monica Lewis, Red Skelton and Chorus.
Editorial review of Excuse My Dust – Red Skelton movie review, courtesy of Amazon.com
There’s nothing more volatile than an idea in small-town 1895 America, especially for eager inventor Joe Belden. He’s making a horseless carriage that runs on an explosive cleaning fluid called gasoline – a gas-o-mobile. Why, it’s enough to make John Q. Citizen flip his straw boater! Red Skelton portrays Joe, taking the wheel in a Technicolor(r) musical comedy that has him wooing the daughter (Sally Forrest) of the man most threatened by Joe’s invention: the local livery master (William Demarest). But there’s happiness all around at the end of the road, and getting there is great fun because the horseless carriage-race finale “is a frantically funny affair…[with] a lot of old Keystone contrivances” (Bosley Crowther, The New York Times).
Trivia for Excuse My Dust
- The original “Morgan” automobile in The Magnificent Ambersons was also used in this film.
- The automobile is the 1892 Philion Road Carriage. It is currently on display at the National Automobile Museum, The Harrah Collection in Reno, Nevada.