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Mr. Doodle Kicks Off (1938)

Passed  -  Comedy | Sport  -  7 October 1938 (USA)
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Ellory Bugs has offered a huge donation to his old alma mater, Taylor Tech, which is to be paid only if his son, Jimmie "Doodle" Bugs, becomes a football hero. But "Doodle" tips the scales ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Joe Penner ...
Jimmie 'Doodle' Bugs
June Travis ...
Janice Martin
Richard Lane ...
Assistant Coach 'Offsides' Jones
Larry Weldon
Professor Minorous
Football Player Rochet
Alan Bruce ...
Mickey Wells
College President Martin
William B. Davidson ...
Ellory Bugs, Jimmie's Father
Pierre Watkin ...
Mr. Wondel
Frank M. Thomas ...
Coach Hammond
Wesley Barry ...
1st Sophomore
Robert Parrish ...
2nd Sophomore (as Bob Parris)


Ellory Bugs has offered a huge donation to his old alma mater, Taylor Tech, which is to be paid only if his son, Jimmie "Doodle" Bugs, becomes a football hero. But "Doodle" tips the scales at 143 pounds and is more interested in the band than the football team. Janice Martin, daughter of the college president, is the great thing in "Doodle's" life, but she despises him and has eyes only for Mickey Wells, the school football star. "Doodle" is consoled by Professor Minorous, of the Greek Mythology department who tells him that the gods will solve all of his problems, and starts right in to make communications with these worthies by means of countless and meaningless blackboard equations. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Sport


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 October 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Prodígio de Fancaria  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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My All American Band
Written by Hal Raynor
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User Reviews

...but not as kicked-off as I am.
26 October 2004 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

If you actually want to know anything about Joe Penner, there's substantial information about him in my IMDb review of his alleged comedy 'The Day the Bookies Wept', which is a poor film but a much better (and funnier) movie than this one. 'Mr Doodle Kicks Off' is utterly execrable.

First, an inglorious moment in sport history: in the 1929 Rose Bowl football match (California v. Georgia Tech), a California player ball-carrier named Roy Riegels ran 65 yards the wrong way, and scored the winning touchdown *against* his own team. This incident remained a big joke for years afterward, and was parodied (or imitated) in many Hollywood films. One of the first movies to make fun of Riegels's football faux-pas was Frank Capra's 'Flight'. In my IMDb review of 'Flight', I made several errors ... including misspelling Riegels's name. As my punishment for being naughty, I'm now reviewing 'Mr Doodle Kicks Off', which borrows the same Riegels incident as Capra's movie. It will come as no surprise to you that Frank Capra's film is a much better movie than 'Mr Doodle Kicks Off'.

Joe Penner, unfunny and whiny with it, plays a jerk named Doodle Bugs. That name might have been amusing in America in 1938. In Britain, where hundreds of people were killed by doodlebugs during the Blitz, I fail to see the joke. Doodle's dad is named Ellery Bugs, a name which I do find funny ... slightly. Ellery has his heart set on his son attending his alma mater Taylor Tech ... not for reasons of academia, but to become a football star. This is one of those brainless Hollywood movies in which colleges exist only as support systems for a football team. Actually, I can think of several real colleges like that.

SPOILERS A-GO-GO: Ellery Bugs, who has more money than any man named Ellery Bugs has a right to possess, offers a whacking big endowment to the dean of the college if Doodle becomes a gridiron great. The college's dean has no discernible forename, but his surname is Martin, so he must be Dean Martin. That joke is funnier than anything in this movie.

Still here? It gets worse. It's too late for me, but you can go surf the X-rated websites and leave me here in my agony. Doodle Bugs is, of course, a total failure at footy. Among other things, he has an irresistible compulsion to start dancing whenever he hears 'Pop Goes the Weasel'. If memory serves, Curly of the Three Stooges had a similar compulsion triggered by precisely the same song: I think Joe Penner did this gag first, but it was definitely funnier when the Stooges did it. The financial endowment offered by Ellery Bugs is dependent upon his son becoming a football star, so it looks like Ellery's moolah is safe.

Or maybe not. Dean Martin (the one in this movie) is determined to get his hands on Ellery's huge endowment (the one in his wallet), so he decides to improve Doodle's football abilities by pimping his own daughter. (This man is a college dean, remember.) The dean sends his lovely daughter Janice to diddle with Doodle, which sounds like a doddle but gets deadly dull because Doodle is a dud. Nonetheless, this mess is a brainless 1930s comedy, so Janice's phony affection makes Doodle believe that she's really in love with him, and somehow this inspires Doodle to become a genuinely excellent football player. (No comment.)

The climax of the film is, of course, the Big Game. But when Doodle learns that Janice's 'love' for him was just a ploy, he loses all his previous brilliance. He runs the wrong way on the field (Roy Riegels should have sued), and of course somebody strikes up 'Pop Goes the Weasel' at the worst possible moment. Guess who wins the game anyway. Guess who decides she really loves Doodle after all. Guess who doesn't give a damn.

I'll rate this rubbish 2 points out of 10, purely for its supporting cast. Billy Gilbert is perfectly cast as a pompous Greek master, but his welcome presence is too brief and doesn't save this movie. Jack Carson and Ben Alexander are good as Doodle's teammates. As the college dean, George Irving gives a good performance in a badly-written and very unlikeable role. May I go home now, mistress?

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