There are three types of people in the world: those who like Bob Hope, those who don’t like Bob Hope, and those who have stopped reading this review already because they don’t know who Bob Hope is.
I must admit that I was not always a fan of Bob Hope. As a comedian, he always seemed to be reading jokes that had been written for him. As an actor, he always seemed like he was playing the same character who constantly winked at the audience to let them know that he was smarter than everyone else. After reading and reviewing Hope: Entertainer of the Century, I was able to appreciate the talent of Mr. Hope and what a tirelessly giving performer he was. It is with that new-found appreciation that I took the opportunity to view for the first time and review The Lemon Drop Kid.
With five Road pictures under his belt as well as the well-received Sorrowful Jones and The Paleface to name a few, Hope sets out on a 91-minute outing from 1951 released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in the summer of 2017. As the smug hustler Sidney Milburn AKA The Lemon Drop Kid, Hope cons the wrong guy (Fred Clark) and ends up owing far more money than he has. He then concocts a scheme to get out of debt, sings some songs, changes his ways, and gets the girl (Marilyn Maxwell).
As Hope continues to keep one foot on shore while winking at the audience throughout this simple story, it is the excellent work of the character actors surrounding our hero that makes this an enjoyable romp. Including the aforementioned Clark and Maxwell, The Lemon Drop Kid gets to play with some of the best character actors of the era including Jane Darwell, Lloyd Nolan, and the always wonderful William Frawley who also appeared in the 1934 version of The Lemon Drop Kid. Far too many others to list them all but it’s tough to find a bad performance in the film.
The film looks and sounds great on this new release, but sadly included no bonus material. Certainly possible that there is no one involved in the film still around to interview, but with all the Hope material available, it seems like Kino Lorber could have put at least one other Hope vehicle on the disk. Would have been great if they could have obtained the rights to the 1934 film.
Recommendation: This film harkens back to the days when Vaudeville stars were still making comedies for the big screen. Simple plots and strong performances by likable characters sold tickets. It’s good family fare that holds up well. Perfect for fans of Hope or those wishing to find out more about the energetic showman. For someone like myself who is familiar with the majority of Hopes films, this is just more of the same. It’s cute but not something I would go out and buy.