Review: O. Henry’s Full House
Blu-ray: O. Henry’s Full House (1952)
Full disclosure: I hadn’t heard of the author “O. Henry” (William Sydney Porter) before watching this movie, but as the end credits rolled my interest was peaked and I’ll definitely be reading his work sometime soon.
So, the movie…John Steinbeck (who I have read) introduces five O. Henry stories from his New York period (1902 – 1910), all of them laced with humour and a twist in the tail (tale!?).
The stories consist of:
THE COP AND THE ANTHEM, where Charles Laughton plays a man down on his luck and homeless. So in his annual attempt to get arrested to spend the winter in a warm jail with free food, he sets out to break the law in any way possible…not everything goes to plan though.
Marilyn Monroe makes a “blink and you’ll miss her” appearance, so of course she is listed high in the credits despite her minimal screen time.
THE CLARION CALL is essentially a double header with Dale Robertson and Richard Widmark facing off against each other.
Robertson is a cop and Widmark is a shady old associate of his whom Robertson owes money.
Through a series of twists and turns Widmark finally gets paid, but this ends up with him having to pay a very high price himself.
This story has the added bonus of adding “Clam Head” to your vocabulary too.
THE LAST LEAF stars Anne Baxter and Jean Peters as sisters, with Baxter ill in bed and Peters desperately worried about her as she fears that her sister will give up on life when the titular “last leaf” falls from the vine outside of their window.
Annoying them above their apartment is Behrman (Gregory Ratoff); a failed artist who makes far too much noise all the time, but little do they know that Behrman’s unique art style will play a big part in their future.
THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF has two out of luck ex-cons (Oscar Levant and Fred Allen) who kidnap a child in the hope of getting a large ransom sum from the boys parents.
Little do they know that the kid is more trouble than he’s worth, no matter how much money they can get for him.
Closing the tales is THE GIFT OF THE MAGI, a love story where a young couple (Farley Granger and Jeanne Crain) with no 2 pennies to rub together, do all that they can to buy each other the perfect present on Christmas Eve.
This ultimately ends with them paying much more than they thought they would.
Despite each story throwing up no real surprises and the “twist ending” to them being telegraphed very early on, each segment was very enjoyable and raised a few laughs throughout…though this is mostly “smile humour” rather than laugh out loud.
The acting and directing (Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, Henry King, Henry Koster, Jean Negulesco) are both to a high standard, and the lighthearted humour running throughout makes for a very pleasant viewing experience.
The blu-ray transfer is sharp and makes this 70 year old movie look fantastic.
One of those perfect “Sunday afternoon movies”.
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by Signal One Media.