Excuse My Dust
Director Roy Rowland worked across genres, turning out decent titles like A Stranger in Town (1943), Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945), The Outriders (1950) and The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), but the race sequence in Excuse My Dust may have benefited from the helping hand of Buster Keaton. In the mid-1940s, Keaton had been reduced to working as a gagman at MGM. He took a liking to Skelton and wanted to team up with him, proposing to Louis B. Mayer that he and Skelton create their own stories and gags and handle all the writing and directing. "I'll guarantee you hits," Keaton told Mayer. "I won't take a cent of salary until they have proved themselves at the box office." Mayer said no, but Keaton still advised Skelton on some of his routines in his next few pictures, including Excuse My Dust.
Choreographer Hermes Pan was another masterly presence on the set, lending his imaginative wit to musical numbers like the one which evolves from a period piece into what its participants imagine the modern era will look like. The numbers gave actress Sally Forrest a chance to finally show off her musical talent. Even though she was a trained dancer and made her film debut in the musical Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), she was known mostly for film noirs and dramas, collaborating several times with Ida Lupino on such films as Not Wanted (1949), Never Fear (1949), Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951) and While the City Sleeps (1956). Forrest's singing voice in Excuse My Dust was dubbed by Gloria Grey.
Also in the cast is the venerable character actress Jane Darwell, Oscar®-winner for her portrayal of Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940).
Producer: Jack Cummings
Director: Roy Rowland
Screenplay: Buster Keaton, Stephanie Nordli, George Wells
Cinematography: Alfred Gilks
Film Editing: Cotton Warburton
Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons
Music: Paul Dunlap, Arthur Schwartz
Cast: Red Skelton (Joe Belden), Sally Forrest (Liz Bullitt), Macdonald Carey (Cyrus Random, Jr.), William Demarest (Harvey Bullitt), Monica Lewis (Daisy Lou Shultzer), Raymond Walburn (Mayor Fred Haskell).
C-83m. Closed captioning.
by Jeremy Arnold