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Little Miss Marker Reviews

This was the first of several versions of Damon Runyon's charming and durable story, but none of the others (SORROWFUL JONES, 1949; 40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE, 1963; LITTLE MISS MARKER, 1980) compared with the original, because none of them had the amazing Shirley Temple. This was the picture that sent her career soaring. Temple plays an adorable little tyke whose father leaves her as a marker for a $20 bet with bookie Sorrowful Jones (Adolphe Menjou), then kills himself. Jones has no idea of what to do with her, but gradually he and "Marky" grow closer as Jones finds religion, marries longtime amour nightclub singer Bangles Carson (Dorothy Dell), and becomes generous--much to the surprise of his cronies, whom the little girl thinks of as Knights of the Round Table. There are plenty of plot twists, including a running battle with Jones' gangster enemy (Charles Bickford), and a thrilling climax. The scene in which Jones' buddies don medieval garb is hysterical. Menjou holds his own opposite five-year-old Temple (a difficult task), and Dell--whose career ended in a fatal car accident at the time of the film's release--also gives a fine performance. This is the sort of yarn that Runyon told well and often: hard-hearted wise guys melting when they have to put aside tough talk and show their true emotions. It'll have you showing your emotions, too.