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The Lemon Drop Kid

USA 1951
produced by
Robert L. Welch for Hope Enterprises, Paramount
directed by Sidney Lanfield
starring Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell, Lloyd Nolan, Jane Darwell, Andrea King, Fred Clark, Jay C.Flippen, William Frawley, Harry Bellaver, Sid Melton, Ben Welden, Ida Moore, Francis Pierlot, Charles Cooley, Salvatore De Lorenzo, Harry Shannon, Bernard Szold, Tor Johnson, Tom Dugan, Stanley Andrews
screen story by Edmund Beloin, screenplay by Edmund L. Hartmann, Robert O'Brien, Frank Tashlin, additional dialogue by Irving Ellison, based on the story by Damon Runyon, music by Victor Young

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The Lemon Drop Kid (Bob Hope) has just cheated gangster Moose Moran (Fred Clark) out of a small fortune without any gain for himself at a racetrack in Florida. Somehow though he manages to persuade Moran to send him to New York and give him the 18 days until Christmas to make and return the money.

In New York though, he hasn't got a clue where to start - until he sees how much the Santa Clauses on every streetcorner collect in a mere manner of hours. His first attempt as an unlicenced Santa Claus collecting for his own charity lands him in jail though ... but then he remembers an old friend of his, homeless lady Nell (Jane Darwell), and he remembers that Moose owns a shutdown casino in the vicinity ... and he turns the casino into a retirement home for Nell and her homeles friends, starts a charity to fund the retirement home, recruits all of his cutthroat friends to become legal money-collecting Santas - and plans to take off with his charity's money on Christmas Eve of course, if only to pay it back to Moose.

The Kid's charity and retirement home become a big succes, big enough for gangster Oxford Charley (Lloyd Nolan) to notice, and he figures that if he can kidnap Nell (under whose name the charity runs) and her ladyfriends, the charity will be his. The plan succeeds, too, but once muscled out of his own racket, the Kid realizes what a heel he was, has a change of heart, and he devices a plan to free Nell and her friends from Charley, steal back the money Charley has stolen from him, and gain control of the organisation again - a plan that involves a bit of crossdressing, but it works.

It's showdown back at Moose's casino/retirement home when Charley comes to reclaim the money that had already been his by way of theft while Moose comes to collect the money the kid is owing him - but the Kid has organized for the retirement home to become a casino again and has invited the police for a raid ... and in the end, both Moose and Charley gets arrested, Nell and her friends get their retirement home for good, and the Kid gets the girl (Marilyn Maxwell), whohas tried to persuade him to marry her all through the film.

Cult icon Tor johnson playas a wrestler turned Santa Claus by the Kid.


Basically, for a film that's about a Christmas miracle (which the kid's change of heart undoubtedly is), this one's pretty good and surprisingly kitsch-free. That said, as a comedy as such, the film is rather average, there are a few good scenes and fine laughs, and if you like Bob Hope, he's in pretty good form here, but there's nothing too memorable about this movie, it's just something that will probably entertain you for its own duration, but a few days later you'll probably have forgotten it already. Granted, that's still more than one can say about many other comedies, but that doesn't make this one a classic.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD