There are strange films in the World of Soundies. Strange and bizarre ones. Soundies where you say to yourself, “What were they thinking?” Then there is this one that fits those criteria … and also happens to be a favorite of mine.
Winstead Sheffield Glenndenning Dixon would become known to the public as “Doodles” Weaver, first a featured member of the Spike Jones entourage and later as a comic figure on television. In 1941, when this Soundie was made, he had appeared in at least two dozen shorts and features, and while he was a recognized character actor, fame was in the future. Just prior to this Soundie’s production Weaver had been a cast member in the “progressive” stage revue (later feature film) called Meet The People; others in the cast included Nanette Fabray, Jack Albertson and Jack Gilford. At the same time Weaver worked regularly with James Copp III, a writer of comic and often surrealistic monologues that Weaver would present in nightclub settings.
Both the writing by Copp and presentation by “Doodles” is, well, bizarre, strange, surrealistic…and wonderful. The comedy might be a bit dated, but nothing has been lost in “enjoyment value.” What one might question, however, is how many people in a bar or poolroom or cafe would actually pause to watch the performance closely. Now, some eighty years later, viewing “Doodles” in action is an easy task. For your enjoyment and wonderment, here is “Doodles” Weaver, sharing James Copp III’s “The Orge,” retitled for the Panoram screen, “Arabella and the Water Tank.”