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O. Henry's Full House

Screening on Film
Directed by Howard Hawks, Henry Koster, Henry Hathaway, Jean Negulesco and Henry King.
With John Steinbeck, Charles Laughton, Marilyn Monroe.
US, 1952, 35mm, black & white, 117 min.
Print source: 20th Century Fox

Due to its poor reception, Hawks’ entry in Twentieth Century Fox’s omnibus tribute to O. Henry was eventually removed by the studio before the film opened widely—thereby negating the title’s poker reference. Apparently only made as a favor to Darryl Zanuck, “The Ransom of Red Chief” is the most slapstick of the bunch, relying mainly on the antics and commentary of radio comedian Fred Allen and dry-humored celebrity Oscar Levant playing two amateur kidnappers who become the victims in their own crime. Of the episodes by the other directors, some of the most indelible include Henry Koster’s “The Cop and the Anthem” starring Charles Laughton as an erudite hobo who can’t get arrested; Henry Hathaway’s “The Clarion Call” with a marvelously manic Richard Widmark tormenting Dale Robertson’s stoic criminal-turned-cop; and of course, the segments featuring narrator and host John Steinbeck in his singular film appearance.

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The Complete Howard Hawks

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