Damon Runyon and Bob Hope make a terrific combination in The Lemon Drop Kid (1951). Based on a short story by Damon Runyon, the film is filled with the usual Runyon collection of colorful and humorous, unlike crooks in real life, gangsters. Hope takes center stage as the Lemon Drop Kid, a cowardly and incompetent, in other words the personae Hope normally assumed in his film comedies of this period, racetrack tout. He dreams up a scam involving the establishment of an old age home for old gangster wives and molls in order to pay off gangster Moose Moran the $10,000.00 he owes him, and to escape Moose having surgery performed upon him sans anesthesia. In the end, nobler sentiments stir within him, and Hope foils the gangsters, saves the old age home and stages an affecting reunion on Christmas eve between an elderly gangster released from prison and his wife, Nellie Thursday, after whom the old age home is named. Hope is ably supported by a superb cast including Lloyd Nolan, William Frawley and Marilyn Maxwell. The song Silver Bells featured in the video clip at the beginning of this post, which has become a Christmas favorite, made its debut in this film.
The Emperor was widely regarded as the savior of Rome. The son of slaves he had fought his way to power against the enemies of Rome. After a half century of chaos he brought order and unity to Rome, crushing pretenders to the imperial purple and restoring the borders of the Empire against the barbarian tribes. Under his tetrarchy system Rome would be ruled by two Emperors and two Caesars who would eventually succeed the Emperors. Peace now reigned in the Empire after decades of strife. Small wonder that Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, better known to history as Diocletian, was hailed as a second Romulus, a second founder of Rome. Read the rest of this entry »
In preparation for a forthcoming post on the life of Catholic convert Bob Hope, I have been reviewing his work. Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys (1955) is a highly interesting Bob Hope comedy/drama. It is amusing like most Bob Hope films, but I have also found it intriguing because Hope portrays Foy at the beginning of the film as a selfish loner who wants absolutely nothing to do with a wife, let alone kids. In the film his ambitions to lead a selfish solitary life are thwarted by love. First, love for his wife and then, after her death, love for their numerous children. At the end of the film we even see love of God starting to enter into Foy’s life. His attempt to lead a life devoted to self alone ends in flat failure!
Like most Hollywood films some of the details of the actual Foy and his children are distorted, but it does not deter from the central message of the film. Humans only have true happiness by loving others and doing good for them. It seems a simple enough concept, and it certainly lies at the heart of Catholicism, but most of the evil in the world is a testament to how elusive many people find this core truth of human life.
I cannot leave this film without showing the clip of the legendary dance routine between Bob Hope and James Cagney, reprising his role from Yankee Doodle Dandy as James M. Cohan. Cagney had his salary for the role donated to charity, regarding it as a tribute to Eddie Foy, who in the twenties had helped out struggling young actors.
Update: Here is the opening of the film which details how Foy was determined to remain single, and his resounding failure in that effort!
Bob Hope was a Republican, but, above all, he was a comedian, and he never let politics stand in the way of a good punch line. A death bed Catholic convert like John Wayne, he will be the subject of a future post here on AC.