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The Lemon Drop Kid Damon Runyon's Broadway fable The Lemon Drop Kid was filmed twice by Paramount Pictures, but only the 1934 version with Lee Tracy paid more than lip service to the original Runyon story. The second version, filmed in 1951, was completely retooled to accommodate the talents of Bob Hope. Known far and wide as the Lemon Drop Kid because of his fondness for that particular round, yellow confection, Hope is a bookie who finds himself deeply in debt to Florida gangster Fred Clark. Magnanimously, Clark permits Hope to head to New York to raise the money--but he'd better have the dough ready by Christmas, or else. Ever on the lookout for Number One, Hope decides to exploit the Christmas spirit in order to get the money together. With the help of unsuspecting nightclub-singer Marilyn Maxwell, Hope sets up a charity fund to raise money for an "Old Doll's Home"--that is, a home for down-and-out little old ladies. He claims to be doing this on behalf of big-hearted Jane Darwell, but he has every intention of double-crossing Darwell and all the other elderly women by skipping town with the charity funds and leaving them at the mercy of the authorities. By the time Hope has seen the error of his ways and tries to do right by the old dolls, Maxwell's boss Lloyd Nolan has decided to muscle into the racket by using the ladies' home as a front for a gambling casino. To set things right, Hope finds it necessary to disguise himself as a fussy old spinster at one point. The best line in the film goes to William Frawley, playing one of many Broadway toughs who are being pressed into service as street-corner Santas. "Will you bring me a doll for Christmas?" asks a little girl. "Naw, my doll's workin' Christmas Eve" is Frawley's salty reply. The Lemon Drop Kid is the film in which Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell introduced the enduring Yuletide ballad "Silver Bells", written (reportedly in a real hurry) by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Road to Bali This sixth entry in the Crosby-Hope-Lamour "Road" series was the first (and last) in Technicolor. This time, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope play George Cochran and Harold Gridley, American vaudevillians stranded in Australia. To avoid a dual shotgun wedding, George and Harold sign on as deep-sea divers for sinister South-Sea-island prince Ken Arok (Murvyn Vye). After a contretemps with an octopus (courtesy of stock footage from Reap the Wild Wind), our heroes sail to the prince's Balinese homeland, where they meet and fall in love with gorgeous Princess Lalah (Dorothy Lamour). Though Lalah favors George, she feels obligated to Harold, because he resembles her childhood best friend -- a chimpanzee (this must be seen to be believed). When Ken Arok attempts to usurp Lalah's throne, she and the boys escape to a tropical island, where they meet the inevitable slapstick-comedy gorilla. More adventures await the intrepid trio on another island, this one dominated by an active volcano. Who gets the girl in this one? A hint: the loser tries to physically prevent the "The End" title from flashing on the screen during the final fadeout. Though not as fresh and spontaneous as earlier "Road" endeavors, Road to Bali has its fair share of non sequitur gags, inside jokes and unbilled guest appearances (including Martin and Lewis, Bing's brother Bob Crosby, Humphrey Bogart and Jane Russell). Best bit: when Crosby feels a song coming on, Hope turns to the camera and hisses "He's gonna sing, folks. Now's the time to go and get your popcorn." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Road to Rio My Favorite Brunette Just as Bob Hope's My Favorite Blonde (1942) was a takeoff on Alfred Hitchcock, Hope's My Favorite Brunette was a lampoon of the noirish "hard-boiled detective" school popularized by Raymond Chandler. Awaiting execution on death row, Hope tells the gathered reporters how he got into his present predicament. It seems that Hope was once a baby photographer, his office adjacent to the one leased by a private detective (played in an amusing unbilled cameo by Alan Ladd). While hanging around the p.i.'s office, Hope is mistaken for the detective by beautiful client Dorothy Lamour. She hires Hope to search for her missing uncle, and also entrusts him with a valuable map. Hope's diligent (if inept) sleuthing takes him to a shady rest sanitarium, where he runs afoul of lamebrained henchman Lon Chaney, Jr. and sinister, knife-throwing Peter Lorre. Both are in the employ of attorney Charles Dingle, who is responsible for the disappearance of Lamour's uncle. Escaping the sanitarium with Lamour in tow, Hope follows the trail of evidence to noted geologist Reginald Denny. The geologist is murdered, and Hope is accused of the crime. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi