"This is vintage Walter Matthau, playing his trademark sourpuss personality. Based on a story by Damon Runyon (the same author whose stories formed the basis for the classic Guys and Dolls), the film is populated by the usual Runyonesque cast of endearing, gold-hearted Depression-era lowlife characters. Matthau plays Sorrowful Jones, a bookie who takes the Kid (Sara Stimson) as a marker for a bet placed by her father, who promptly goes out and drowns himself. Despite his flinty exterior, Jones has a heart and spends the rest of the movie trying to cope with his new status as father-by-default to the adorable Kid. In this he is aided and abetted by his faithful sidekick, played admirably by Bob Newhart. Julie Andrews as the love interest adds a touch of class. The cast is rounded off by Tony Curtis, playing a less-than-menacing gangster who provides the third side of the love triangle.
The plot is carried entirely by Matthau, whose deadpan delivery of his lines is impeccable. The humour does not insult the viewer's intelligence. All in all, a film worth watching.
The only quibble I have is with the DVD, which is execrable. There are no special features at all - not even a menu for selection of scenes. What we have here is basically a VHS in DVD format. One expects more nowadays."
Good cast, great production, but weak script and direction
Scott MacGillivray | Massachusetts, USA | 01/28/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The Walter Matthau version of "Little Miss Marker" tries very hard to capture the authentic 1930s Damon Runyon flavor. The art direction is superb, the Henry Mancini score is wonderful, and Matthau is fine as always, but the film promises more than it delivers. The original Runyon story tells of a hard-hearted bookie who reluctantly accepts a little girl as security for a wager, and gradually thaws out as he cares for the child as his own. The story (faithfully told in the 1934 Adolphe Menjou-Shirley Temple film version) strikes all the right notes as the plot progresses, but the 1980 script rambles aimlessly and often overlooks key plot points, with many missed opportunities for the Runyon warmth and humor. Still watchable thanks to Matthau and villain Tony Curtis, but what should have been a sure winner finishes out of the money."
Sweet and predictable
JoJo | Alabama | 03/27/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I like this movie a lot. It is sweet to see how the crusty old bookie begins to care for the child. Although this movie is predictable, it is entertaining. It is one that the whole family can watch together. I especially like the scene where Sorrowful reads "the kid" the race results for a bed time story."
A delightful & hilarious gem!
Nathan Peles | Sydney, Australia | 02/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is such a feel-good comedy, one of Walter Matthau's best!
If you've seen the "Odd Couple", or for that matter any of Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon's comedy, then you'll love this.
The casting is spot on!
So glad it's finally out on DVD :-)"
Average remake of the Shirley Temple classic
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 05/24/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The 1980 remake of LITTLE MISS MARKER does visibly capture a lot of the 1930s feeling of the original Damon Runyon story, but the film as a whole seems under-done.
Walter Matthau plays the curmudgeonly bookie "Sorrowful" Jones, who finds himself lumbered with a six-year-old girl, known only as "The Kid" (played by Sara Stimson). Throw a beautiful society dame into the mix (Julie Andrews at her loveliest), and you have one of the classic comedies.
The original version of LITTLE MISS MARKER was filmed by Paramount Pictures in 1934, starring Shirley Temple as "The Kid" and Adolphe Menjou as "Sorrowful". In terms of sheer charm, the original wins hands-down, but the 1980 remake must be commended for re-creating the tale for a new generation.
Walter Matthau and Julie Andrews manage to conjure up some sort of chemistry--but despite that fact you'd never imagine them as a romantic couple. Sara Stimson is appealing in the title role, and there are some fun cameos from Tony Curtis and Lee Grant.
Universal has released LITTLE MISS MARKER on a bare-bones DVD--fullscreen transfer, and there isn't even a menu. However, the price is nice, and the movie itself is quite enjoyable. (Single-sided, single-layer disc)."