O. Henry’s Full House
These five stories are by O. Henry who was famous for his surprise endings.
John Steinbeck (himself) tells about the writer O. Henry. In “The Cop and the Anthem” broke Soapy (Charles Laughton) slept in the park and tells Horace (David Wayne) he is going to jail for the winter. Soapy takes an umbrella and enjoys a meal and can’t pay but is thrown out. He breaks a window, but the police chase Horace. Soapy tries to offend a streetwalker (Marilyn Monroe) and gives her the umbrella. At night Soapy and Horace go in a church. Crying Soapy walks out repentant, determined to get a job; but a cop arrests him, and a judge sentences him to ninety days for vagrancy.
In “The Clarion Call” police detective Barney Woods (Dale Robertson) picks up a clue and looks for Johnny Kernan (Richard Widmark); he finds him drinking. They sing and go to Johnny’s room. Johnny slaps Hazel and makes her get out. Barney suspects Johnny of murder and slugs him. Johnny pulls his gun and gives it to Barney. Johnny reminds Barney when he loaned him $1,000 to save him from prison. Barney leaves and borrows money, but Johnny won’t accept only $300. Johnny mocks The Clarion Call detective about the murder. Barney sees The Clarion Call and goes to the detective. Then he gives Johnny $1,000 and arrests him for the $1,000 reward.
“The Last Leaf” is set in snowy New York. Joanna Goodwin (Ann Baxter) collapses on the street, and her sister Susan Goodwin (Jean Peters) takes care of her. Behrman (Gregory Ratoff) sells a painting for $3. The doctor tells Susan that Joanna has pneumonia and does not want to live. Joanna identifies her life with the leaves outside. Susan sees only one leaf left. Behrman is drunk but assures Susan that Joanna will get well. In the morning Joanna looks out and happily sees one leaf. Susan learns that Behrman was found dead in the snow. Susan sees that the leaf is painted on the wall.
“The Ransom and Red Chief” is about two con men. Wanted embezzlers Slick Brown (Fred Allen) and William (Oscar Levant) kidnap J. B. Dorset (Lee Aaker) while his parents watch. Slick delivers a ransom note and returns. J. B. says he is Red Chief and wants to play Indians. William is afraid of J. B. who has a knife. William and Slick climb a tree to avoid a bear. J. B. makes them promise and scares away the bear. Slick grabs J. B. who gives William poison ivy. Slick and William give back J. B. with the money and leave.
In “The Gift of the Magi” Della (Jeanne Crain) and Jim (Farley Granger) talk about gifts on Christmas Eve. They are poor but happy. Jim admires her long hair, and Della says she was impressed by his gold watch. They look in shop windows. Jim goes to work, and Della buys meat and has only $1.87. She sells her hair for $20. Jim works as a clerk but his bonus is only $3. Della buys a special watch band for $20. At home she curls her short hair. Jim comes home and sees her hair. She gives him a present. Jim gives her a comb for her hair. He gets the watch band and says he sold his watch. They laugh and embrace as they hear a Christmas carol.
These stories tell about people who are poor in one way or another but manage to find happiness, showing that humanity is so much more than buying and selling.