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When the Lemon Drop Kid accidentally steers Moose Moran's girl away from a winning bet, he is forced to come up with $10,000 to repay the angry gangster. Fortunately it's Christmas, a time when people can be persuaded to part with money for the right cause. Written by
Erica Schulman <email@example.com>
Bob Hope is Sidney Milburn, "The Lemon Drop Kid" in this film based on a Damon Runyon story. Hope plays a racetrack "tout" who talks up horses to eager bettors. In the first scene we see him conversing with a neighing horse and taking notes. He tells one bettor that most of the horses are sick: "That's why they head for the inside rail so they have something to lean on."
Unfortunately, he talks mobster Moose Moran's (Fred Clark) girlfriend out of betting on the horse Moose sent her to bet on, and the horse, Lightning Streak, comes in last. Sidney then owes Moose $10,000 and is in big trouble. He goes to New York and looks up some old friends.
One is Nellie (Jane Darwell) whose husband Henry is about to be released from prison, but she is about to be evicted; and the other is Brainey (Marilyn Maxwell). Sidney moves Nellie and some other elderly ladies (or old dolls, as they're called) into Moose's casino which is sitting empty on Long Island, gets a vendors license, and sends his friends dressed as Santa out to collect money for "The Nellie Thursday Old Dolls Home." Trouble follows.
Hope is surrounded by some fine character actors: Jay C. Flippen, Sid Melton, William Frawley, and Lloyd Nolan.
Marilyn Maxwell sings "Silver Bells," which became a big hit. She toured with Hope entertaining the USO and was apparently having a huge affair with him.
There's a lot of slapstick at the end, which is very funny, as Hope goes on the run dressed as an old woman. There are some great lines as well throughout, in part thanks to Hope's flawless delivery. Despite not playing a savory character, he comes off as one of the most likable crooks you'll ever meet.
Fun, and a nice film to see at holiday time.
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