O. Henry's Full House

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O. Henry's Full House
O. Henry's Full House Poster.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed by Henry Koster
Henry Hathaway
Jean Negulesco
Howard Hawks
Henry King
Produced byAndré Hakim
Screenplay by Richard L. Breen
Walter Bullock
Ivan Goff
Ben Hecht
Nunnally Johnson
Charles Lederer
Ben Roberts
Lamar Trotti
Based onShort stories
by O. Henry
Starring Fred Allen
Anne Baxter
Jeanne Crain
Farley Granger
Charles Laughton
Oscar Levant
Marilyn Monroe
Jean Peters
Gregory Ratoff
Dale Robertson
David Wayne
Richard Widmark
Narrated by John Steinbeck
Music by Alfred Newman
CinematographyLloyd Ahern
Lucien Ballard
Milton R. Krasner
Joseph MacDonald
Edited byNick DeMaggio
Barbara McLean
William B. Murphy
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • October 16, 1952 (1952-10-16)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1 million (US rentals) [1]

O. Henry's Full House is a 1952 American anthology film made by 20th Century Fox, consisting of five films, each based on a story by O. Henry. [2]


The film was produced by André Hakim and directed by five directors from five screenplays with different authors. The music score was composed by Alfred Newman. The film is narrated by author John Steinbeck, who made his only on-camera appearance to introduce each story.

Howard Hawks' "The Ransom of Red Chief" was so poorly received that the studio removed it before the film opened widely. [3] [4]



A prologue presented by narrator John Steinbeck introduces biographic background on O. Henry and mentions several of his other stories not included, notably the story of reformed safecracker Jimmy Valentine in A Retrieved Reformation .

"The Cop and the Anthem"

Directed by Henry Koster, from a screenplay 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 himself arrested.

"The Clarion Call"

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

This vignette reunited Henry Hathaway and Richard Widmark who'd worked together on the noir classic Kiss of Death (1947). Widmark's character in The Clarion Call, "Johnny Kernan", is actually a reprise of his Oscar-nominated character "Tommy Udo" from Kiss of Death. Widmark's Udo/Kernan character was inspired by his love of Batman comics' "The Joker". The Tommy Udo performance in turn influenced Frank Gorshin in preparation for his "Riddler" character on the Batman TV series in the 1960s.

"The Last Leaf"

Directed by Jean Negulesco, from a screenplay by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, it stars Anne Baxter, Jean Peters, and Gregory Ratoff. The story is set in Greenwich Village during the depths of winter. A poor old painter saves the life of a young woman, dying of pneumonia, by giving her the will to live. From her bed the patient can see an ivy vine through the window gradually losing its leaves in the intense cold. She has taken it into her head that she will die when the vine loses its last leaf. Seemingly, the last leaf never falls, and the young woman survives. In reality, the vine lost all its leaves during the cold night. The leaf she thought she had seen was just the image of a leaf painted on the wall with perfect realism, by the old artist, who died of a heart attack out in the wet and cold shortly after finishing the painted 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, Lee Aaker, Irving Bacon, Kathleen Freeman, and Robert Easton. Two con men 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. On Christmas Eve, with little money, Della sells her hair to buy her husband Jim a watch fob. Jim has sold his watch to buy her a pair of ornamental combs. When they exchange these now useless gifts, they realize how deep is their love for one another.


Richard Widmark as Johnny Kernan in O. Henry's Full House (1952) anthology film. The Kernan character (a reprise of Widmark's "Tommy Udo") appears in the segment entitled "The Clarion Call", directed by Henry Hathaway. Johnny Kernan 1952.jpg
Richard Widmark as Johnny Kernan in O. Henry's Full House (1952) anthology film. The Kernan character (a reprise of Widmark's "Tommy Udo") appears in the segment entitled "The Clarion Call", directed by Henry Hathaway.

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  1. 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953.
  2. Crowther, Bosley (October 17, 1952). "THE Four O. Henry Short Stories Offered in Fox Movie at Trans-Lux 52d Street". The New York Times .
  3. McCarthy, Todd (2007). Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. Open Road + Grove/Atlantic. ISBN   9780802196408.
  4. Hicks, Chris (December 15, 2006). "Old favorite 'O.Henry' on DVD at last". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved August 18, 2019.