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Hope's films always spun on his zany sense of humor. In this, a redo of a Damon Runyon story (see Little Miss Marker), Hope is at his best. I noted with interest the comments of one reviewer who bristling with politically correct indignation, accuses Hope of everything from Sexism to nearly murder. True, they were not as tuned into the careful not to offend anyone scene we are now but most of this stuff is pretty mild. Besides, being a senior citizen myself, I was hardly offended. The list of wonderful studio character actors in this film is delightful. Fred Clarke who was at his best as a villain or sleeze ball gives a delightful show as a gangster. And, then there's Marilyn Maxwell: her singing of "Silver Bells," gave us a new Christmas carol that is sung every holiday season. I'm sorry that some of our other reviewers were piqued by this film. I think it has held up well and I still delight at Hope's antics. I guess that dates me. I was in junior high when I saw this film. I loved it then and love it now.
The Lemon Drop Kid is directed by Sidney Lanfield (Frank Tashlin
uncredited) and based on the short story of the same name written by
Damon Runyon (Edmund Beloin adapting). It stars Bob Hope, Marilyn
Maxwell, Lloyd Nolan, Jane Darwell, Andrea King & Fred Clark.
It's perhaps a bit unfair to call it purely a Christmas movie? But watching it during the festive holiday season itself more than doubles the impact of the viewing. Bob Hope is The Lemon Drop Kid, a scam artist who during one of his cons at the race track finds himself in debt to a gangster for $10,000. If he doesn't find the money by Christmas day then he's going to be done for in a very grizzly way. We then follow the intrepid Hope on his various escapades to get the money; no mater how morally corrupt it be! A charity scam in the name of an old peoples home brings about much mirth and frivolity, and as the film twists as much as Hope does in his energetic scenes, it leave us with a delightful feel good seasonal offering. The lead cast are fine, with Hope in his element with the material to hand, while Marilyn Maxwell is perfect foil for Hope in the lead female role that calls for gusto and sentiment to be layered equally. While the final cherry on this lovely yuletide cake comes with the Hope/Maxwell rendition of "Silver Bells" that underpins the Christmas flavour of the piece.
It's unlikely to impress hardcore Runyon followers, and those that don't buy into Hope's form of comedy are probably best to avoid it. But for many folk, myself included, The Lemon Drop Kid is a 10/10 film, particularly at the Crimble season.
The Lemon Drop Kid is the second of two films Bob Hope did from stories
based on Damon Runyon's colorful collection of characters, the first
being Sorrowful Jones. Sidney Melbourne known to one and all as The
Lemon Drop Kid for his inordinate fondness for lemon flavored candy is
a fellow who lives by his wits as a race track tout.
Sometimes our hero is too clever by a half and when he gives the wrong tip to gambler Fred Clark's girl friend, Andrea King, Clark says that Hope owes him ten thousand dollars, the amount the horse would have paid him.
Things move fast and furious as Hope evolves a scheme to raise the money by starting a home for little old ladies named for Jane Darwell. Hope gets everyone in his set involved including his long suffering girl friend, Marilyn Maxwell.
Maxwell, who was reputedly involved romantically with Hope during the shooting of this film, plays a part almost identical to Runyon's better known Adelaide from Guys and Dolls.
Of course this film is famous for introducing that modern Christmas classic Silver Bells by Bob and Marilyn. And in an act that some might consider charity, that other well known Paramount star, Bing Crosby made a hit record of it with his radio girl singer of the moment Carole Richards.
In his musical autobiography record Bing said that he thought the secret of Silver Bells popularity is that it is an urban based song with its images of department stores, kid's rushing, and above all the bustle the sound of bells from street corner Santas. The song fits in real nice in the film with Hope's scheme involving his fellow street people in Santa Claus suits collecting for that little old ladies home.
Silver Bells got nominated for Best song, but lost to that other Paramount film song In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening introduced by Bing Crosby.
Still the popularity of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans classic modern holiday ballad will insure people will be watching The Lemon Drop Kid for years to come.
I saw this movie when I was only about five years old and I've loved it since. It epitomizes the typical good hearted man in a bad situation who undergoes a character transformation worthy of old Scrooge himself. Bob Hope plays a grifter who tries to play both sides of a scam. All of this is infused with just the right amount of holiday fun and Christmas Carols (and even a few cracks at Bing) to make it a real holiday classic. I would recommend it for any age and any family.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Bob Hope portrays a lemon drop eating race track hustler who hustles a local crime boss out of $10,000. Hope is given until Christmas to get the money together. Hope goes to NYC and cons his girlfriend, friends and local thugs into dressing up in Santa suits and collecting money for a senior citizens home for "old dolls." Hope intends to make off with the donations and pay off his debt to the crime boss. However, a NYC crime boss figures out what Hope is up to and blows the whistle on Hope and takes over the Santa donation scheme himself. Hope then redeems himself by entraping the two crime bosses, making sure the senior citizen home gets the donations and he gets his girl back. It would seem that Hope's character has finally learned the Christmas message, that it is better to give than to receive.
This is probably my favorite Bob Hope film. He is excellent as a scheming hustler type. It seems to come natural to him. The film makes great use of character actors from the 30,s 40's and 50's in the films various supporting roles. Marilyn Maxwell is a real treat to look at and has great chemistry with Hope. The song Silver Bells is beautiful and fits the film perfectly. I think my favorite scene is where Hope is dressed as an elderly woman trying to describe what he is knitting to the other elderly woman. It was a mop that goes so well with his argyle scrub bucket.
If you like Bob Hope, Christmas movies or comedies than you'll probably like this film.
This is one of my favorite holiday movies. It is a great example of Runyan's work. I would recommend it for the whole family! It is a nice departure from the usual holiday sentimentalism. The dialog is peppered with typical Runyan phrases that truly capture the "Guys and Dolls" types and yet still has the Bob Hope send up comedy typical of his "Road" pictures. The musical numbers add to the picture without making it into a big budget Hollywood show. Jane Darwell, William Frawley and Lloyd Nolan are really enjoyable. Even though some of the comedy it perhaps a bit ethnic oriented, it really isn't offensive. My family and I would rather watch this than any other "wonderful" holiday movie.
"The Lemon Drop Kid" is from a story by Damon Runyon--and it's heritage
is obvious based on the sorts of names for the characters, such as Stan
the Surgeon, Moose Moran, Nellie Thursday and Straight Flush Tony. The
title character is played by Bob Hope and he's a real schmuck. He makes
his living, such as it is, by selling fake tips on horses at the
racetrack. However, when he convinces a big-time mobster's girl to bet
on a horse instead of the one she intended to bet on, the mobster (Fred
Clark) is NOT happy. He insists that The Kid must pay him back by
Christmas....or else. The problem is that The Lemon Drop Kid has no
money and no friends--so he heads to New York to try to convince
someone to loan him the money. But, he is a schmuck after all and none
of his 'friends' in the city are willing to give him a dime. What's he
to do....just wait to have his legs broken....if he's LUCKY?! Nah, he
comes up with a scheme involving the creation of an old folks home and
Santa. Confusing? See the film to find out why he does this and what's
Overall, this is a very enjoyable Hope vehicle. He's in top form and the movie is entertaining despite a few small glitches. For example, look for Bob Hope's lips as he 'sings' "Silver Bells" and tries to get money from some very little kids. You can clearly see that his lips AREN'T moving yet he's somehow singing! Oops. Despite this silly mistake, I must say that this is a lovely part of the film--a real highlight. Clever and worth your time.
This movie is very funny and unique to motion pictures. Bob Hope provides a brilliant performance. He can easily be the only one to remember from the movie while the others you can forget about quickly. With this movie, you can obviously tell which scenes are fabricated and which ones are more realistic. I recommend this one for a couple of good laughs. But beware that there are some slow parts to it that can bore you quickly.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was a big Bob Hope fan all through the 1940s. In his movies, he
always played the hapless loser who lucks his way out of trouble and
into a beautiful woman's arms. In this one he plays a con man. Con men
can be funny if they are complete incompetents or if they successfully
con someone who deserves to be conned. In this movie, only half of each
of the above occurs and it is thus less funny and inconsistent.
Hope starts out a loser and a craven coward in this one, but at the end of the movie as his schemes work, he becomes smarmy and struts around in an unappealing way. I hated this; it undermined all the previous likable schnook characters Hope had played.
I had already read the Runyon story about the Lemon Drop Kid when this film was first released and I was disappointed that the movie contained almost no part of it and only a soupcon of Runyon English could be heard.
Maxwell was attractive and sang well. The song "Silver Bells" is a good one. There were many superior character actors in this, but none of them had a chance to really register.
I can't think of a Bob Hope move made subsequent to this that I liked. This started a downhill slide for me.
This is a terrific Christmas movie for adults, since it revolves around money and debt. Bob Hope is a racetrack tout who, for too many reasons worth going into here, winds up owing a gangster ten large during the Yuletide season, and comes up with an ingenious way to raise the cash. Hope fits in reasonably well with the general scheme (so to speak) of this Damon Runyon story, and Marilyn Maxwell is gorgeous. In able support are William Frawley, Sid Melton, Ben Welden and a gaggle of other big city types without whom this kind of movie can't work. Thanks in large part to them, it does. Only Lloyd Nolan, as Oxford Charlie, seems wrong for this one. His movie persona was too inflexible for Runyon antics. Maybe Brod Crawford wasn't available. But this is a minor quibble. The movie is a delight.
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