This ties together five of O. Henry’s classics into a full house of entertainment that has something for all tastes. The five classics are tied together by John Steinbeck’s narration.
The Cop and the Anthem gets the quintet off to an enjoyable 19-minute start as Charles Laughton milks the fat part of Soapy, the gentleman bum who tries unsuccessfully to get arrested so he can spend the winter months in a warm jail.
The Clarion Call is a 22-minute excursion into melodrama with a twist. Dale Robertson plays the cop with a conscience who must arrest Richard Widmark, an old pal gone wrong and to whom he owes a debt.
The Last Leaf plunges into dramatics for 23 minutes, with Anne Baxter, Jean Peters and Gregory Ratoff keeping it emotionally sure. It’s the tale of a girl, without the will to live because of an unhappy love affair, who believes she will die when the last leaf falls from a vine outside her window.
Fred Allen, Oscar Levant and young Lee Aaker keep amusing a highly burlesqued takeoff on The Ransom of Red Chief, the comedy saga of two city slickers who make the mistake of kidnapping for ransom the hellion son of a backwoods Alabama rich farmer. It’s broad fun as directed by Howard Hawks
Picture closes with a choice little account of that tender story of young love, The Gift of the Magi, splendidly trouped by Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger.
O. Henry's Full House
20th Century-Fox. Director Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, Henry King, Henry Koster, Jean Negulesco; Producer Andre Hakim; Screenplay Richard Breen, Walter Bullock, Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts, Lamar Trotti; Camera Lloyd Ahern, Lucien Ballard, Milton Krasner, Joe MacDonald; Editor Nick De Maggio, Barbara McLean, William B. Murphy; Music Alfred Newman
(B&W) Extract of a review from 1952. Running time: 116 MIN.