The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

90-91 mins | Comedy | April 1951

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HISTORY

The film's title card reads: "Damon Runyon's The Lemon Drop Kid ." Runyon's original short story was later published in his collection Blue Plate Special (New York, 1934). The order of the opening cast credits differs from the end credits, and some names appear only in the end credits. The story opens with the following written statement: "This is a race track in Florida. Damon Runyon frequented such race tracks, for it was there that he met many of the people he wrote about...horse owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms, gamblers, pickpockets....There are many sources from which those who bet receive their information about the horses. Damon Runyon wrote about an interesting source of mis -information called 'The Lemon Drop Kid.'"
       Ray Livingston and Jay Evans' song "Silver Bells" was first performed in The Lemon Drop Kid and quickly became a Christmas standard. Bing Crosby, Bob Hope's frequent co-star, made the first recording of the song. HR news items list the following actors in the cast: Al Klein, James Cornell, Margaret Zane, Janet King, Noreen Lee, George Barrows, Chuck Hamilton , George Magrill, Marie Thomas, Susanne Rosser, Franklyn Farnum, Marie Reeves, Margaret Roberts, Jack Ellis, Rex Foster, Kenneth Kendall, Thelma Woodruff, Paul Lacy, Rex Moore, Norma Fenton, Shirley Anderson, Dick Cherney, Richard Clark, Marilyn Caplan, Brick Sullivan, Harry Wilson, Mae George, Stephen Gordon, Michael Cowan, Virginia Olson, Martin Lessow, Ann Beck, Peggy Dale, Barbara Painter, Mildred Baer, Charles Millsfield, Freeman High, Mary Moder, John Ardizoni, Marian Mosick, Lynnette Bryant, Charles Booker, Helen St. Rayner, Linda Garrison, Joy McDade, Jim Pierce, Evelyn Cedar, Wally Boyle, Jerry Housner, Lyle Moraine, ... More Less

The film's title card reads: "Damon Runyon's The Lemon Drop Kid ." Runyon's original short story was later published in his collection Blue Plate Special (New York, 1934). The order of the opening cast credits differs from the end credits, and some names appear only in the end credits. The story opens with the following written statement: "This is a race track in Florida. Damon Runyon frequented such race tracks, for it was there that he met many of the people he wrote about...horse owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms, gamblers, pickpockets....There are many sources from which those who bet receive their information about the horses. Damon Runyon wrote about an interesting source of mis -information called 'The Lemon Drop Kid.'"
       Ray Livingston and Jay Evans' song "Silver Bells" was first performed in The Lemon Drop Kid and quickly became a Christmas standard. Bing Crosby, Bob Hope's frequent co-star, made the first recording of the song. HR news items list the following actors in the cast: Al Klein, James Cornell, Margaret Zane, Janet King, Noreen Lee, George Barrows, Chuck Hamilton , George Magrill, Marie Thomas, Susanne Rosser, Franklyn Farnum, Marie Reeves, Margaret Roberts, Jack Ellis, Rex Foster, Kenneth Kendall, Thelma Woodruff, Paul Lacy, Rex Moore, Norma Fenton, Shirley Anderson, Dick Cherney, Richard Clark, Marilyn Caplan, Brick Sullivan, Harry Wilson, Mae George, Stephen Gordon, Michael Cowan, Virginia Olson, Martin Lessow, Ann Beck, Peggy Dale, Barbara Painter, Mildred Baer, Charles Millsfield, Freeman High, Mary Moder, John Ardizoni, Marian Mosick, Lynnette Bryant, Charles Booker, Helen St. Rayner, Linda Garrison, Joy McDade, Jim Pierce, Evelyn Cedar, Wally Boyle, Jerry Housner, Lyle Moraine, Joan Arnold and Lee Winter. The appearance of these actors in the completed film has not been confirmed. Studio publicity materials include vaudevillians The Cirillo Brothers in the cast, but their appearance in the final film also has not been confirmed.
       The Lemon Drop Kid marked Hope's second appearance in a Runyon story. In 1949, he made the highly successful Paramount release Sorrowful Jones , which was based on Runyon's short story "Little Miss Marker" (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Screenwriter Edmund Hartmann worked on both pictures, and both films were produced by Robert L. Welch and directed by Sidney Lanfield. According to modern sources, Hope wanted Jan Sterling as his co-star, but because of delays due to script problems, she could not participate. Principal photography ended in mid-Aug 1950, but as noted in HR news items, the film went back into production in mid-Nov 1950. Modern sources state that after viewing a rough cut of the picture, Hope asked Paramount to hire Frank Tashlin to do some rewrites and that Tashlin agreed on condition that he could also direct the retakes. According to modern sources, Tashlin rewrote and directed the elaborate "Silver Bells" sequence. Charley Cooley, who plays "Goomba" in the film, was Hope's former vaudeville partner and boyhood friend. According to studio publicity, the Florida horseracing scene was shot at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, CA.
       Hope and Marilyn Maxwell reprised their roles for a 10 Dec 1951 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast. In 1934, Paramount had released a film called The Lemon Drop Kid , directed by Marshall Neilan and starred Lee Tracy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ), which was also based on the Runyon short story. The plot of the earlier picture has few similarities to the 1951 picture, and although neither film is completely faithful to Runyon's original story, the 1934 version more closely resembles it. William Frawley, who portrayed "Gloomy Miller" in the 1951 picture, also appeared in the 1934 film, as The Kid's sidekick "The Professor." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Mar 1951.
---
Daily Variety
7 Mar 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Mar 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 50
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 50
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 50
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 50
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 50
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 50
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 51
p. 3.
Look
24 Apr 51
pp. 127-28, 130.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Mar 51
p. 758.
New York Times
21 Mar 51
p. 41.
New York Times
22 Mar 51
p. 41.
Time
2 Apr 1951.
---
Variety
7 Mar 51
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Society Kid Hogan
Harry O. Tyler
Eugene O. Roth
Paul "Tiny" Newlan
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Ed supv
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
Vocal arr
Mus adv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Prod mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Lemon Drop Kid" by Damon Runyon in Collier's (3 Feb 1934).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"They Obviously Want Me to Sing," "It Doesn't Cost a Dime to Dream" and "Silver Bells," words and music by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Damon Runyon's The Lemon Drop Kid
Release Date:
April 1951
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 21 March 1951
Production Date:
early July--late August 1950
retakes mid November--mid December 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Hope Enterprises, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 April 1951
Copyright Number:
LP804
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90-91
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14774
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Just before a horserace at a Florida track, notorious tout Sidney Milburn, known as The Lemon Drop Kid because of his fondness for lemon candies, talks an attractive stranger into changing her bet, unaware that she is placing the wager for her boyfriend, gangster Moose Moran. After Moose's original pick wins and Moose discovers that The Kid has caused him to lose $2,000 instead of winning $10,000, he orders his goons to drag The Kid to his home. There, Moose threatens The Kid with torture, but The Kid insists that he can deliver $10,000 to Moose at his defunct Long Island casino by Christmas. With twenty-three days to go, The Kid returns to his hometown, New York City, wearing only a summer suit. While trudging through a blizzard, the freezing Kid runs into Nellie Thursday, an old friend, who laments that her safecracker husband, Henry Regan, is being released from prison on Christmas Eve and she is about to be evicted. The Kid sympathizes, but as he is broke and needs ten dollars to get his winter clothes out of hock, admits he cannot help her. The Kid then drops in on his sometime girl friend, singer Brainey Baxter, and persuades her to give him ten dollars by vowing to marry her right after he reclaims his clothes. Later, The Kid visits gangster Oxford Charlie, the owner of the nightclub at which Brainey works, and asks for a $10,000 loan. After Charlie laughingly sends him on his way, The Kid notices a sidewalk Santa Claus collecting donations and gets an idea. Dressed in his own Santa Claus suit, The Kid starts soliciting from passersby but ... +


Just before a horserace at a Florida track, notorious tout Sidney Milburn, known as The Lemon Drop Kid because of his fondness for lemon candies, talks an attractive stranger into changing her bet, unaware that she is placing the wager for her boyfriend, gangster Moose Moran. After Moose's original pick wins and Moose discovers that The Kid has caused him to lose $2,000 instead of winning $10,000, he orders his goons to drag The Kid to his home. There, Moose threatens The Kid with torture, but The Kid insists that he can deliver $10,000 to Moose at his defunct Long Island casino by Christmas. With twenty-three days to go, The Kid returns to his hometown, New York City, wearing only a summer suit. While trudging through a blizzard, the freezing Kid runs into Nellie Thursday, an old friend, who laments that her safecracker husband, Henry Regan, is being released from prison on Christmas Eve and she is about to be evicted. The Kid sympathizes, but as he is broke and needs ten dollars to get his winter clothes out of hock, admits he cannot help her. The Kid then drops in on his sometime girl friend, singer Brainey Baxter, and persuades her to give him ten dollars by vowing to marry her right after he reclaims his clothes. Later, The Kid visits gangster Oxford Charlie, the owner of the nightclub at which Brainey works, and asks for a $10,000 loan. After Charlie laughingly sends him on his way, The Kid notices a sidewalk Santa Claus collecting donations and gets an idea. Dressed in his own Santa Claus suit, The Kid starts soliciting from passersby but is recognized by a policeman and arrested. While in jail, The Kid is visited by Moose's enforcer, Sam the Surgeon, who reminds him about his upcoming payment deadline. Suddenly inspired, The Kid assures Sam he has a brilliant idea for raising the money: He will temporarily turn Moose's empty casino into a retirement home for old women, obtain a state charity license, and use sidewalk Santas to collect "donations." As hoped, Brainey then bails The Kid out, intending to force him into an immediate marriage. The Kid, however, persuades her to wait and solicits help from various unsuspecting friends, telling them that they will be raising money for a home for Nellie, who has just been arrested. After bailing Nellie out, The Kid and his cohorts escort her to the casino, which has just been renamed the Nellie Thursday Home for Old Dolls. Soon, the craps tables, which can be hidden in the walls in case of police raids, are converted into beds, and the place is bustling with elderly women. With only two weeks until Christmas, The Kid and his friends then begin their fund-raising campaign on the streets of New York. When Brainey, who is still unaware of The Kid's scheme, tells Charlie about the Santa fund-raising operation, Charlie decides to "muscle in" on The Kid's activities. While The Kid and his friends are busy soliciting donations, Charlie and his goons kidnap the old women and steal the $16,000 The Kid has collected. Finding the casino deserted, The Kid deduces Charlie's subterfuge and, with Brainey and his friends, races to the gangster's New Jersey home, where Nellie and the other women are being held. The Kid denounces Charlie, but Charlie calls Moose, who proves to The Kid's disbelieving friends that The Kid was raising the money for his own use. Brainey is furious at The Kid and unmoved by his predicament. Later, on Christmas Eve, The Kid sees Nellie, who managed to escape from Charlie's, and convinces her to round up the gang and bring them to New Jersey. The Kid then steals some women's clothes and shows up at Charlie's, posing as an old lady. After gaining access to Charlie's office, The Kid reveals himself to his rival, knocks him out and steals his money bag. Fleeing on a borrowed bicycle, The Kid races to the city, eventually ending up at Moose's casino. When the waiting Moose demands all of The Kid's money, the walls open up to reveal Nellie and the gang gambling at the craps tables. Just as The Kid announces that he has called the police, the place is raided and Charlie and his goons are arrested. Before he can escape, The Kid is cornered by a judge, who demands that The Kid use the money to run an honest retirement home. Later, Nellie's just-released husband appears at the reinstated home, and while he and Nellie enjoy their long-awaited reunion, The Kid proposes to a forgiving Brainey. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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