O. Henry’s Full House (1952): Anthology Film, Five Directors, Many Stars

O. Henry’s Full House, an American anthology film made by Fox, consisted of five films, each based on a story by O. Henry.

Produced by André Hakim, the film was helmed by five directors from five screenplays with different scribes. The music score was composed by Alfred Newman.

The film is narrated by author John Steinbeck, in his only on-camera appearance, introducing each story.

Howard Hawks “The Ransom of Red Chief” was so poorly received that the studio removed it before the film opened widely.

The five stories

“The Cop and the Anthem”
“The Clarion Call”
“The Last Leaf”
“The Ransom of Red Chief”
“The Gift of the Magi”

“The Cop and the Anthem”

Directed by Henry Koster, from a script by Lamar Trotti, it stars Charles Laughton, Marilyn Monroe and David Wayne. As winter approaches, a vagrant decides it’s time for his annual winter spell in prison. But no matter how hard he tries, he cannot get arrested.

“The Clarion Call”

Directed by Henry Hathaway, from a script by Richard L. Breen, it stars Dale Robertson and Richard Widmark.

A detective cannot arrest a murderer he knows from his past due to his honor involving an outstanding financial debt to the criminal. Once a newspaper offers a reward, after being mocked by the criminal, the detective arrests the criminal and collects the reward to repay the debt.

“The Last Leaf”

Directed by Jean Negulesco, from a scripy by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, it stars Anne Baxter, Jean Peters, and Gregory Ratoff.

Set in Greenwich Village during a pneumonia epidemic, the tale centers on an old artist who saves the life of a young artist, dying of pneumonia, by giving her the will to live.

Seeing an ivy plant through the window gradually losing its leaves, and has taken it into her head that she will die when the last leaf falls. Seemingly, it never does fall, and she survives. In reality the vine lost all its leaves. What she thought she saw was in actuality a leaf, painted on the wall with perfect realism, by the old artist. The old artist dies of a heart attack while out in the wet and cold, painting the last leaf.

“The Ransom of Red Chief”
Directed by Howard Hawks, from a screenplay by Ben Hecht, Nunnally Johnson and Charles Lederer, it stars Fred Allen, Oscar Levant and Lee Aaker. Two conmen kidnap a child in order to collect a substantial ransom, but the child proves to be too much for them.

“The Gift of the Magi”
Directed by Henry King, from a screenplay by Walter Bullock, it stars Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger.

Note: 

I am grateful to TCM for showing the film on December 8, 2019.

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