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O. Henry's Full House

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A movie

O. Henry's Full House (1952) is an anthology film made by 20th Century Fox, consisting of five separate stories by O. Henry. The film was produced by André Hakim and directed by five separate directors from five separate screenplays. The … see full wiki

1 review about O. Henry's Full House

A pleasant alternative to the incessant showings of It's a Wonderful Life

  • Jun 26, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+3
Christmas is the season to quickly tire of endless showings of It's a Wonderful Life. One antidote is to watch O. Henry's Full House. Twentieth Century Fox took five stories by O. Henry, gave each to a different director and screenwriter and assigned a number of Fox's top stars to the project. The result? A movie made up of five charming, sometimes sentimental tales stuffed with turn-of-the-century Americana and gentle irony. We learn about human nature, good intentions, humor in adversity, hope, a bit of despair, and love that's far more important than money. We're left smiling and contented, with happy endings all around. Not bad at all. John Steinbeck gives the bridging on-screen narrative.
 
"The Cop and the Anthem" is directed by Henry Koster and features Charles Laughton, Marilyn Monroe and David Wayne. A down-on-his luck, sly and verbose old tramp is determined to be arrested so he can spend the wintery Christmas season in jail where it's warm and he'll be fed. His stratagems backfire, but kindness and his good intentions result in...
 
"The Clarion Call" is directed by Henry Hathaway and features Dale Robertson and Richard Widmark (doing his Tommy Udo shtick). A police detective and a crazed killer, acquaintances once, find out just who the smarter one is when it comes to repaying a...
 
"The Last Leaf" is directed by Jean Negulesco and features Anne Baxter, Jean Peters and Gregory Ratoff. A young woman who no longer wants to live believes she will die when the last leaf from a vine outside her bedroom window falls to the ground. A poor painter, ahead of his time, intervenes when he...
 
"The Ransom of Red Chief" is directed by Howard Hawks and features Fred Allen and Oscar Levant. When two hapless confidence men decide to kidnap a young boy for ransom, they can't understand why the parents seem happy to let them keep the kid. Then they learn what they have on their hands and realize there's only one solution...
 
"The Gift of the Magi" is directed by Henry King and features Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger. This young couple are as poor as mice and love each other with joy. When they each make a sacrifice to ensure that the other will have a Christmas present, the irony is sweet and loving...
 
Sure, the movie is sentimental, but in a very nice way.
 
One of the pleasures of O. Henry's Full House is a chance to be reminded of Fred Allen. He's largely ancient history now, if he's remembered at all. In the Thirties and through the mid-Forties, he was one of the very best and most successful radio comedians America ever produced. Unlike Bob Hope and Jack Benny, his wit and his personality never made the bridge to movie or television success. Allen eventually was done in when radio discovered game shows after WWII and his audience migrated to a low common denominator. Allen was acerbic, inventive, funny...and, week after week he wrote most of his own material. If you've ever heard his slightly nasal, questioning delivery you won't forget it. His autobiography, Treadmill to Oblivion, concentrates on his years in radio and what it was like grinding out wit every week and dealing with pigmy executives and humorless network censors. Fred Allen’s Letters gives us a large sample of his witty, literate correspondence with all sorts of people.
A pleasant alternative to the incessant showings of It's a Wonderful Life A pleasant alternative to the incessant showings of It's a Wonderful Life A pleasant alternative to the incessant showings of It's a Wonderful Life A pleasant alternative to the incessant showings of It's a Wonderful Life

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