Musical Monday: Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
The Lemon Drop Kid” –Musical #515

Poster - Lemon Drop Kid, The (1951)_02

Paramount Pictures

Sidney Lanfield, Frank Tashlin (uncredited)

Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell, Lloyd Nolan, Jane Darwell, Andrea King, Fred Clark, William Frawley

Swindler Sidney Milburn (Hope), known as the Lemon Drop Kid, gives a notorious gangster a bad tip on a horse in Florida, ending in a $10,000 debt. The Kid has to come up with the money by Christmas Eve, or else. So he sets back to New York City to ask his friends and girlfriend Brainy (Maxwell) for money. The Kid’s elderly friend Nellie (Jane Darwell) can’t get into an elderly woman’s home. The Kid and his mob set up an old lady’s home in an old gambling parlor and starts a street corner donation Santa Claus racket with his mobster friends to with a guise that they are funding an elderly woman’s home–he really plans to use the money for his debts.


Bob Hope as the Lemon Drop Kid bets on horses and gets in trouble.

Bob Hope as the Lemon Drop Kid bets on horses and gets in trouble.

-Based off characters that writer Damon Runyon met at a Florida race track

-This film introduced the song “Silver Bells,” according to TCM host and film historian, Robert Osborne.

-“Silver Bells” was originally going to be called “Tinkle Bells,” according to “Hope: Entertainer of the Century” by Richard Zoglin.

-“Silver Bells” was originally going to be staged with Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell performing the song in a gambling parlor with gamblers singing. Hope didn’t feel this was effective and the song wouldn’t be a hit. Hope worked to get it restaged, and the final result is Hope and Maxwell walking down a snowy, Christmasy street and performing the song, according to the Zoglin book.

-Remake of “The Lemon Drop Kid”(1934) starring Lee Tracey

-The credits that have the billings hung on a Christmas tree and around gifts that correspond with their roles in the film.
-“Silver Bells” performance

Bob Hope dresses like an old lady to help out old ladies at a home.

Bob Hope dresses like an old lady to help out old ladies at a home.

Notable Songs:
-“Silver Bell” performed by Marilyn Maxwell and Bob Hope
-“It Doesn’t Cost a Dime to Dream” performed by Marilyn Maxwell and Bob Hope

My Review:
“The Lemon Drop Kid” is your Bob Hope film with his usual and humorous jokes. One of my favorite “Bob Hope” jokes is when he steals a sweater from a dachshund to stay warm in the New York snow.

But “The Lemon Drop Kid” stands a little apart from the rest of Hope’s films. It’s particularly heartwarming.

For example, when Bob Hope sets up the old woman’s home, he and Marilyn Maxwell tuck all the old woman and sing them a lullaby and it’s adorable. That’s probably my favorite scene.

Marilyn Maxwell and Bob Hope perform "Silver Bells."

Marilyn Maxwell and Bob Hope perform “Silver Bells.”

But for me, the top reason is it’s introduction of the song “Silver Bells.” It’s a very heartwarming scene that almost make me want to cry and be in the holiday spirit all at the same time.

The supporting cast in this film is also wonderful with Jane Darwell and William Frawley. Marilyn Maxwell was a capable leading lady in the 1940s, but unfortunately, her star didn’t shine for very long.

“The Lemon Drop Kid” isn’t a mainstream Christmas film, but it’s filled with the warmth and spirit of the holidays.

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