Damon Runyon's old story, "The Lemon Drop Kid," which, was about a race
track tipster who leaped from the frying-pan into the fire, has been
given a pretty thorough shakedown under the capable hands of Bob Hope in
the slapstick farce of the same title that came to the Paramount
yesterday. The consequent entertainment, populated throughout by Mr.
Hope, may be a far cry from Mr. Runyon's story, but it's a close howl to
good, fast, gag-packed fun.
it has come to be expected that anything played by Mr. Hope is not safe
from utter mutilation by him and the boys who write his stuff. That
which is known as "Runyon flavor" in the characters of his famous guys
and dolls is as vulnerable to Mr. Hope's burlesquing as is a gentle
tweak on the nose. So let it be understood that the current "Lemon Drop
Kid," which previously was filmed some seventeen years back, is strictly
a rough-house with Hope.
As such, it touches in passing upon the troubles of a hapless race
track tout who makes the mistake of touting a big-shot's doll onto a
heavy-losing dog. And for this slight miscalculation he is ordered to
get up ten grand by Christmas Day in the morning, or submit to a bit of
abuse. How the Kid works up a racket inspired by a charity-collecting
Santa Claus and runs into dutch with a mobster is what you might call
the traffic of the tale.
For Mr. Hope's convenience, Edmund Hartmann and Robert O'Brien, with
a dialogue assist from Irving Elinson, have contrived such burlèsque
stunts as getting dressed in a Santa Claus costume and making up like a
60-year-old doll. They also have provided the hero with two or three
hundred gags, with which Mr. Hope, a practiced handler, knows precisely
what to do. Jay Livingston and Roy Evans also have written a couple of
songs, the popular "Silver Bells" included, which Mr. Hope and Marilyn
Miss Maxwell's connection with the fable is as a soft-hearted
show-girl type who tags along benignly after the fast-moving,
fast-talking Kid. Jane Darwell is also among the participants as an
ancient Broadway doll for the benefit of whom, presumably, the Kid
starts his so-called charity.
William Frawley and J. C. Flippen are a couple of the several
grotesque mugs who assist in the madcap conniving, and Lloyd Nolan and
Fred Clark are the thugs. All of them act as straight accessories to Mr.
Hope's eccentric show under the snappy direction of Sidney Lanfield. But
it is all Mr. Hope, on the nose.