A young girl is left with the notoriously cheap Sorrowful Jones as a marker for a bet. When her father doesn't return, he learns that taking care of a child interferes with his free-wheeling lifestyle. Sorrowful must also evade crooked gangsters and indulge in a bit of horse-thieving. Written by
Erica Schulman <email@example.com>
High marks for cuteness, not so high marks for comedy...
What you will think about this probably depends a lot on if you are looking more for comedy or more for a cute family film...with a strong emphasis on cute. As far as a comedy goes, it's not terribly funny. As a cute film goes, it works reasonably well--mostly because the little tyke is awfully sweet--and not always in a saccharine way. It is clearly designed as a sweet family film and Bob Hope's comedy definitely takes a back seat to this.
The story is about a period in the life of the Damon Runyon character, Sorrowful Jones. All of Runyon's characters had colorful names like this, by the way. Jones is a professional gambler--a sharpie with an aluminum heart. First and foremost, he is interested in money and hasn't an ounce of sentiment about him. However, when a poor schnook leaves his four year-old child with Jones, temporarily, Jones is forced to care for the tyke. Sadly, however, her father runs afoul of a mobster and is killed--leaving the kid to either stay with Hope or go to an orphanage. Naturally, the struggle throughout the film is for Hope to show SOME nurturing skills and force down his natural impulse to be a money-grubbing jerk. To help him in this process is his on-again/off-again girlfriend played ably by Lucille Ball.
In a goofy twist (and one I didn't care for that much), the child becomes the owner of a racehorse...of sorts. Crooks decide to put the horse in the child's name in an effort to dodge the police--but the child becomes enamored with it. This leads to a schmaltzy portion of the film when the child is hurt and ends up in the hospital. They almost give up hope (not the actor) until Bob gets the idea of sneaking the horse into the hospital (this happens all the time). But, to do this, he has to fight thugs who are intent on killing the horse instead.
All in all, this was not a bad Bob Hope vehicle despite the emphasis on schmaltz instead of humor--though I would have preferred more humor and less sentiment. It's agreeable and cute, though as I said above, some may balk at the fact that the humor, such as it is, is pretty restrained. But, Hope did show that he could handle a role with a bit more to it than his usual characters...just a bit.
By the way, there have been four versions of this film. I haven't seen any of the others, so I cannot compare them. But based on the plot, I'm not in a huge hurry to see the rest. Meh.
FYI---Little Mary Jane Saunders grew up to marry Jay Johnstone, the major league baseball player.
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