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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Gangster > Musical > Christmas > The Lemon Drop Kid (1951/Shout! Factory DVD)

The Lemon Drop Kid (1951/Shout! Factory DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Film: C+



Bob Hope films have been getting a wave of reissue and in time for the holidays, Shout! Factory is issuing The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) ahead of a new box set of some of his key films that went out of print a few years ago.  Based on the Damon Runyon tale, this was originally made in 1934 and this remake was also intended as Christmas vehicle.  Though it was no classic, it is the film that helped introduce the song Silver Bells to the world. 


Hope plays the title character, a small-time con artist looking for the next quick buck and having no respect for authority.  However, when his con artistry is accidentally used on the girlfriend of a dangerous head mobster, he is suddenly in debt for $10,000 and no gift boxes of candy or otherwise so he has to come up with a scheme to get the money.  This leads to other plot twists as well as some gags and jokes.


The film does have some good moments, but it is not Hope’s best though he is good here.  Marilyn Maxwell is an attractive female lead (she duets Silver Bells with Hope) and the fine supporting cast includes Lloyd Nolan, Tor Johnson and William Frawley (of I Love Lucy) who was also (as a different character) in the 1934 film.  Though Hope’s regular director Sidney Lanfield was the main director, the great Frank Tashlin directed some scenes and co-wrote the script.  Too many sped-up comic gags date the film, which is uneven and juggles too much (is it a comedy, a holiday comedy, a gangster comedy…) for its own good, but it is still worth a look as it approaches (already?) its 60th anniversary.


Almost arriving a few years ago in the now-defunct HD-DVD format (and we believe eventually Blu-ray format), that version of Kid was postponed, then releasing company BCI Eclipse (who had the DVD out for years) folded.  We expect that this 1.33 X 1 black & white transfer was intended for that scrapped release and looks very good for its age.  Though detail and depth are not perfect, Video Black is good for the format and Director of Photography Daniel L. Fapp (Ice Station Zebra, Our Man Flint, One, Two, Three) delivers a grade-A picture backed by Paramount, the studio that originally released the film.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also nice and clean for its age, though we wonder if the songs (and maybe music score) were recorded in stereo.  There are no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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