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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Full House , Bagdad on the Subway and O. Henry's Bagdad on the Subway . The film's opening and ending credits are in different order, and the ending credits specify the actors, writers and directors of each segment. O. Henry's short stories have been anthologized in numerous books, including his The Four Million (New York, 1906). According to HR news items, Twentieth Century-Fox was considering producing a biography of O. Henry in 1943, and later, in 1945, announced that it would be filming a full-length version of "The Gift of the Magi," to be produced by Otto Preminger.
       According to a May 1952 HR news item, Clifton Webb was originally set for the part of "Sam 'Slick' Brown," but when he was occupied with production of Stars and Stripes Forever (see below), the role was given to Fred Allen. Modern sources add that Nunnally Johnson wrote the screenplay of "The Ransom of Red Chief" specifically for Webb and William Demarest, and after the casting of Allen and Oscar Levant, director Howard Hawks asked Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer to re-write the script. Johnson then requested that his name be removed from the film's credits before its release because he was displeased with the finished segment. Although only Walter Bullock is credited onscreen as the writer of "The Gift of the Magi," the Newsweek review and a studio synopsis list Philip Dunne as co-author of the segment.
       Although Joyce MacKenzie is listed in the onscreen credits, her role of "Hazel Woods" in "The Cop and ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Full House , Bagdad on the Subway and O. Henry's Bagdad on the Subway . The film's opening and ending credits are in different order, and the ending credits specify the actors, writers and directors of each segment. O. Henry's short stories have been anthologized in numerous books, including his The Four Million (New York, 1906). According to HR news items, Twentieth Century-Fox was considering producing a biography of O. Henry in 1943, and later, in 1945, announced that it would be filming a full-length version of "The Gift of the Magi," to be produced by Otto Preminger.
       According to a May 1952 HR news item, Clifton Webb was originally set for the part of "Sam 'Slick' Brown," but when he was occupied with production of Stars and Stripes Forever (see below), the role was given to Fred Allen. Modern sources add that Nunnally Johnson wrote the screenplay of "The Ransom of Red Chief" specifically for Webb and William Demarest, and after the casting of Allen and Oscar Levant, director Howard Hawks asked Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer to re-write the script. Johnson then requested that his name be removed from the film's credits before its release because he was displeased with the finished segment. Although only Walter Bullock is credited onscreen as the writer of "The Gift of the Magi," the Newsweek review and a studio synopsis list Philip Dunne as co-author of the segment.
       Although Joyce MacKenzie is listed in the onscreen credits, her role of "Hazel Woods" in "The Cop and the Anthem" was cut before film was released. A Nov 1951 HR news item includes Heinie Conklin in the cast of "The Gift of the Magi," but his appearance in the finished picture has not been confirmed. The film marked the screen debut of Carl Betz, and the only feature film appearance of author John Steinbeck.
       All five segments were included in the film's initial release, but according to contemporary sources, in early Oct 1952, before the film's New York opening on 16 Oct, the studio re-edited the picture to exclude "The Ransom of Red Chief." A 5 Oct 1952 NYT news item quoted studio officials as saying "it would be a better picture without" the segment. In a 26 Oct 1952 NYT article, critic Bosley Crowther pointed out that the title O. Henry's Full House was a minsomer, as the film contained only four stories, and suggested that it ought to be changed to O. Henry's Four of a Kind .
       O. Henry's stories have been the basis for many shorts, including a series of two-reel Vitagraph shorts in the 1910s; a 1909 Biograph short entitled The Sacrifice , based on "The Gift of the Magi (see AFI Catalog. 1893-1910 ); and a 1935 short entitled Dumb Luck , which was based on "The Ransom of Red Chief." Thomas Mitchell portrayed O. Henry in a 1957 syndicated television series entitled The O. Henry Playhouse . The series presented thirty-minute long versions of O. Henry stories and lasted for thirty-nine episodes. Full-length versions of O. Henry's stories include two television productions: the 1958 CBS musical Gift of the Magi , directed by George Schaefer and starring Gordon MacRae and Sally Ann Howes; and the 1978 NBC drama The Gift of Love , directed by Don Chaffey and starring Marie Osmond and Timothy Bottoms. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Aug 1952.
---
Cue
18 Oct 1952.
---
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1943.
---
Daily Variety
18 Aug 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Aug 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Citizen-News
19 Sep 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 1943.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 45
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 51
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 51
p. 15, 17.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 51
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 51
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jan 52
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 52
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 52
p. 4, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 52
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 42
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 52
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 52
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 52
p. 9, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 52
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 52
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 52
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 52
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 52
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 52
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
18 Aug 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Aug 52
p. 1501.
New York Times
5 Oct 1952.
---
New York Times
17 Oct 1952.
p. 33.
New York Times
26 Oct 1952.
---
Time
22 Sep 1952.
---
Variety
20 Aug 1952.
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
"The Cop and the Anthem":
Thomas Browne Henry
"The Clarion Call":
House Peters Sr.
"The Last Leaf":
"The Ransom of Red Chief":
"The Gift of the Magi":
Sig Ruman
Prologue:
Donna Lee Hickey
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir of "The Cop and the Anthem"
Dir of "The Clarion Call" [and prologue and narrat
Dir of "The Last Leaf"
Dir of "The Ransom of Red Chief"
Dir of "The Gift of the Magi"
Asst dir of "The Clarion Call"
Asst dir of "The Gift of the Magi"
Asst dir of "The Last Leaf"
Asst dir of "The Last Leaf"
Asst dir of "The Ransom of Red Chief"
Asst dir of "The Ransom of Red Chief"
2d unit dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr of "The Cop and the Anthem"
Scr of "The Clarion Call"
Scr of "The Last Leaf"
Scr of "The Last Leaf"
Scr of "The Gift of the Magi"
Scr of "The Gift of the Magi"
Scr of "The Ransom of Red Chief"
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog of "The Cop and the Anthem"
Photog of "The Clarion Call"
Photog of "The Last Leaf" and "The Gift of the Mag
Photog of "The Ransom of Red Chief"
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Ed of "The Cop and the Anthem," "The Clarion Call"
Ed of "The Ransom of Red Chief"
Ed of "The Gift of the Magi"
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short stories "The Cop and the Anthem" in New York World (4 Dec 1904)
"The Clarion Call" in New York World (29 Oct 1905)
"The Last Leaf" in New York World (15 Oct 1905)
+
LITERARY
Based on the short stories "The Cop and the Anthem" in New York World (4 Dec 1904)
"The Clarion Call" in New York World (29 Oct 1905)
"The Last Leaf" in New York World (15 Oct 1905)
"The Ransom of Red Chief" in The Satuday Evening Post (6 Jul 1906)
and "The Gift of the Magi" in New York World (10 Dec 1905) by O. Henry.
+
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Bringing in the Sheaves," words by Knowles Shaw, music by George Minor
"De Camptown Races," words and music by Stephen Collins Foster
"O Little Town of Bethlehem," words by Phillips Brooks, music by Lewis M. Redner
+
SONGS
"Bringing in the Sheaves," words by Knowles Shaw, music by George Minor
"De Camptown Races," words and music by Stephen Collins Foster
"O Little Town of Bethlehem," words by Phillips Brooks, music by Lewis M. Redner
"Hark the Herald Angels Sing," words by Charles Wesley, music by Felix Mendelssohn.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Bagdad on the Subway
O. Henry's Bagdad on the Subway
The Full House
Release Date:
September 1952
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Greensboro, NC: 7 August 1952
Los Angeles opening: 18 September 1952
Production Date:
The Gift of the Magi: 19 November--27 November 1951
The Cop and the Anthem: 2 January--mid January 1952
The Clarion Call: 16 January--23 January 1952
The Last Leaf: 20 February--26 February 1952
The Ransom of Red Chief: 22 May--2 June 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
17 August 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1974
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
116-117
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16007
SYNOPSIS

While standing in his study, author John Steinbeck states that writer William Sidney Porter, who was known as O. Henry, created many lively characters and noteworthy stories, which were often set in turn-of-the-century New York City. Steinbeck then notes that one of the best is "The Cop and the Anthem," in which a homeless bum, Soapy Throckmorton, prepares for the rigors of winter: The well-educated but lazy Soapy discusses his situation with his friend, Horace Truesdale, who does not share Soapy's view that three months in the city jail is a fine way to spend the season. Soapy then begins a campaign to get himself arrested, but despite taking a passerby's umbrella, eating a lavish meal and not paying for it and throwing a horseshoe through a window, Soapy is not arrested. He then approaches a young woman on the street while a policeman stands nearby, hoping to get arrested for annoying her, but when the woman turns out to be a prostitute, Soapy quickly covers his actions so that she will not get in trouble. Frustrated, Soapy and Horace seek shelter in a church, and the peaceful surroundings remind Soapy that he grew up privileged and pampered, with dreams of living a fine life. Determined to reform, Soapy leaves, but is arrested for loitering outside the church. Although Soapy pleads with the judge, assuring him that he is a changed man, the judge sentences him to ninety days in jail.
       Back in his study, Steinbeck explains that O. Henry, who learned about jail "the hard way," never felt superior to the people about whom he wrote, and that "The Clarion Call" is a ... +


While standing in his study, author John Steinbeck states that writer William Sidney Porter, who was known as O. Henry, created many lively characters and noteworthy stories, which were often set in turn-of-the-century New York City. Steinbeck then notes that one of the best is "The Cop and the Anthem," in which a homeless bum, Soapy Throckmorton, prepares for the rigors of winter: The well-educated but lazy Soapy discusses his situation with his friend, Horace Truesdale, who does not share Soapy's view that three months in the city jail is a fine way to spend the season. Soapy then begins a campaign to get himself arrested, but despite taking a passerby's umbrella, eating a lavish meal and not paying for it and throwing a horseshoe through a window, Soapy is not arrested. He then approaches a young woman on the street while a policeman stands nearby, hoping to get arrested for annoying her, but when the woman turns out to be a prostitute, Soapy quickly covers his actions so that she will not get in trouble. Frustrated, Soapy and Horace seek shelter in a church, and the peaceful surroundings remind Soapy that he grew up privileged and pampered, with dreams of living a fine life. Determined to reform, Soapy leaves, but is arrested for loitering outside the church. Although Soapy pleads with the judge, assuring him that he is a changed man, the judge sentences him to ninety days in jail.
       Back in his study, Steinbeck explains that O. Henry, who learned about jail "the hard way," never felt superior to the people about whom he wrote, and that "The Clarion Call" is a good example of his fairness: Policeman Barney Woods returns to New York City after escorting a counterfeiter to Ft. Leavenworth, and in the police station notices that the only piece of evidence to the brutal murder of a man named Norcross is a gold pencil holder, engraved "Camptown Races 4 July 1901," which was left at the scene of the crime. Casually asking if he can borrow the evidence, Barney does not reveal that he recognizes it, then goes in search of its owner, hardened criminal Johnny Kernan. Johnny, who was Barney's boyhood friend, is delighted when Barney finds him, and states that he is on his way to Chicago. Barney reveals that he is a policeman and that the pencil holder, which was a prize won by them in a singing contest, links Johnny to the murder. Johnny confesses to the killing but caustically reminds Barney that he owes him $1,000, which Johnny leant to him when Barney sustained heavy gambling debts years earlier. Knowing that Barney could not arrest him while he is in debt to him, Johnny dismisses his former friend. Barney spends the afternoon taking out loans and cashing in his insurance, but when he tries to give Johnny $300, Johnny refuses it, saying that Barney must pay him all or nothing. Johnny then taunts Dave Bascom, city editor of The Clarion Call , that he will not be able to catch the Norcross murderer. Downhearted, Barney returns to the police station, where a headline in the newspaper catches his eye and causes him to rush to Bascom's office. Barney then intercepts Johnny in his train compartment and gives him $1,000 before arresting him. As Johnny is escorted off the train, he spots The Clarion Call 's evening headline, which offers a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the Norcross killer.
       Steinbeck then relates that although O. Henry was born in North Carolina, he loved New York, and one of his stories, "The Last Leaf," is about the artists of Greenwich Village: Joanna Goodwin is heartbroken when her lover, actor Sheldon Sidney, abruptly ends their relationship, and in her grief, she wanders the streets during a snowstorm. Finally, her eccentric, Russian neighbor, painter Behrman, finds her and carries her to the apartment she shares with her sister Susan. Jo is diagnosed with pneumonia, and despite Sue's best efforts, continues to grow worse. Behrman, who is fond of the sisters, sells one of his surrealistic paintings to art dealer Boris Radolf to pay for Jo's prescriptions. Radolf urges his friend to paint in a more realistic style, so that he can sell his work, but Behrman refuses. The doctor tells Sue that Jo apparently has lost the will to live, and one evening, Jo tells Sue that the ivy vine clinging to a wall outside their window has steadily been losing leaves, and she believes it to be a sign that when the last leaf falls, she will die. Behrman, discouraged over his lack of success, gets drunk but nonetheless tries to cheer up the despondent Sue. Determined to help Jo, Behrman spends the night out in a freezing storm, painting a perfect replica of a leaf on the wall. When she awakens, Jo is thrilled to see that the "leaf" is still there, and assures Sue that she will recover fully. The sisters are saddened to discover that Behrman died from exposure during the night, and when Sue deduces that he painted the leaf for Jo, she tells her that someday she will realize what a great artist Behrman was.
       Steinbeck then notes that to O. Henry, "no one was too good to slip, or too bad to climb," and to illustrate his point, he wrote "The Ransom of Red Chief": In the early 1900s, confidence men Sam "Slick" Brown and William Smith are in rural Alabama, where they are trying to raise capital for a phony stock scheme. Over William's objections, Slick suggests that they kidnap a child for ransom, but the genteel city dwellers are overwhelmed when the boy they abduct, J. B. Dorset, proves too wild for them to handle. While awaiting the ransom, William and Slick spend a harrowing twenty-four hours being tormented by J. B., who steals their watches, insists on being called "Red Chief," intimidates them with his pocketknife and "sics" a wild bear on them. Finally, the weary men receive a note from J. B.'s father Ebenezer stating that he will take the boy off their hands for $250. Desperate to be rid of the rascal, Slick and William return him to his parents, along with all of their money. As they race away, before J. B. can catch up with them, William bemoans his black eye and poison ivy rash, but Slick tells him to cheer up, for a confidence man is nothing without confidence.
       In his study, Steinbeck explains that at the turn of the century, certain social leaders declared that there were only four hundred people in New York worth knowing. In rebuttal, O. Henry wrote what has become one of his most famous stories, "The Gift of the Magi": clerk Jim Young and his pregnant wife Della are deeply in love, despite their poverty. On Christmas Eve, Jim and Della joke about the lavish gifts they will give each other, and when Della walks Jim to work, they admire the wares displayed in store windows. Of especial interest to Della is a platinum watch fob that would go perfectly with Jim's heirloom pocket watch, while Jim points out three, elegant silver combs that would look beautiful in Della's long hair. Determined to get the fob for Jim, Della sells her hair to hairdresser Maurice, although when she sees her cropped head in a mirror, she tearfully wonders if Jim will still love her. When Jim arrives home, he is astonished by Della's appearance but assures her that nothing could lessen his love for her. Jim then gives Della her Christmas present, the silver combs, and although her short hair can no longer hold them, she is touched by Jim's thoughtfulness. Della then gives Jim the platinum fob, and he admits that he sold his watch in order to buy her the combs. As the couple then laugh and embrace, they listen to carolers sing about the joys of the season. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.