The Lemon Drop Kid
Based on Damon Runyon’s story, a con man has to raise $10,000 to pay a gangster for a lost bet and creates a charity scam at Christmas time.
At a Miami race track the Lemon Drop Kid (Bob Hope) gives tips on different horses, and he causes gangster Moose Moran (Fred Clark) to lose $10,000. Moose demands the money and gives the Kid until Christmas Eve in New York.
During a snow storm the Kid and Nellie Thursday (Jane Darwell) need money and try to borrow from each other. The Kid steps into a hotel and uses a mirror. He calls on Brainy Baxter (Marilyn Maxwell) and suggests a wedding. She gives him $10 for a license. The Kid visits Oxford Charley (Lloyd Nolan) and asks for $10,000, but he is thrown out.
The Kid dresses as Santa Claus to collect donations. A cop arrests him, and a judge sentences him to ten days or $50 for pan-handling. The Kid calls Brainy, who hangs up. She rehearses a song and gets $50 from Charley to get the Kid out. In jail the Kid tells Moran’s man he needs Moran’s casino to collect money using Nellie and other old women. Brainy pays the Kid’s fine.
The Kid asks hoodlums for old ladies who need charity. The Kid takes Nellie in a car to her “home for old dolls.” Gloomy Willie (William Frawley) brings in another old lady. They use craps tables as beds for the ladies. Brainy and the Kid sing “It Doesn’t Cost a Dime to Dream.” The Kid flips a switch, and the tables are hidden.
The Kid has crooks dressed as Santa Claus and sends them out to collect. Brainy sings “Silver Bells” with the Kid on the street. Brainy tells Charley she is leaving the show and that they raised $2,000 so far.
The Kid hides cash in a statue and kisses Brainy. Charley and his men go to the home. The Kid and Willie find that everyone and the money are gone. They go to Charley and see the sign and Nellie. Charley says the money is going to the Kid to pay Moose. Charley takes over the racket.
The Kid stops Nellie from pawning her wedding ring, and he plans to get the money back. The Kid strips a mannequin in a store window. He dresses as an old lady and goes to the home. Brainy is stopped from escaping. The Kid sees Charley put cash in a suitcase and tries to take it. Ladies tell him it is a jail and that Charley is a hoodlum like the Kid. The ladies are taken out, and the Kid fights Charley for the money, knocking him out. The Kid escapes on a bicycle.
The Kid gives $10,000 to Moose. Charley comes in and asks for his $16,000. Tables appear, and people gamble. The Kid has police raid Moose and Charley, and the Judge takes the money for the Nellie Thursday Fund. Nellie’s husband comes home from prison, and he blows the safe to get the silverware for the party. The Kid plans to marry Brainy.
This comedy satirizes the New York underworld by having them play opposite roles of charity workers. The Kid perpetually plays his cons, but somehow the final result is that the biggest gangsters are caught while the old ladies get the help they need.