Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 15. July 29, 1953
Films by Ian Rich — O. Henry's Full House
Films by Ian Rich
O. Henry's Full House
It was a fair be", that Hollywood would film some of O. Henry's stories. After all England had done Somerset Maughan and successfully too. But film producers turn out to be fools more often than angels; so be It with the producers of "Full House." O. Henry's stories, quite frankly, are not good film material. Half their charm in the author's style—quietly humorous, economical, straight-to-the-point which helps Che superficiality of the subject matter. O Henry is superficial, but apart from the style, his stories have an appeal because of their snap, surprise endings. The present film version retains the surprise ending but there is not the faintest suggestion of a cinematic style that reflects O. Henry's literary style.
No that is an exaggeration. The first story "The Cop and the Anthem" is the best because its director has attempted a lightness of touch, an economy of dialogue and incidence. The original story is relatively unchanged, except for an added character which is essentially for the telling of the tale. Charles Laughton and David Wayne are worth watching and provide the only acting delights of the film. Those who go to see the film merely to see Marilyn Monroe will be disappointed. She and all that goes with her are on the screen for only three minutes.
"The Clarion Call" is almost a total bore. We have the beginning of the heaviness that is to overload the rest of the film. The story has been expounded and the theme and character distorted. The film's hero becomes strong and big-chested, the original small-wirey detective Jenkinised. The villain acquires a girl friend (he must have some charm) and becomes more a victim of fate rather than a victim of his own bragging and boasting. Richard Widmark gives an extravagant performance that has the pretentiousness of the direction and scenario.
"The Last Leaf" brings the transformation of two elderly painting sisters into two young beauties, one of whom is seriously ill from that well-known Hollywood complaint——humiltation or a hangover from a misfire marriage What on imaginative film versious this would have been! A painter's story, with a painter's atmosphere and a painter's set. But instead wet gel camera gymnastics, a cinematic white elephant out of a literary painted cottage.
The spirit of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello invades "The Ransom of Red Chief." together with their explosive motor-cars, honey bear licks, night caps and night gowns. Fred Allen and Oscar Levant fight against the director and introduce another spirit of their own. The result? A translation that is not O. Henry, direction that lacks style and an entertainment that is dull.
"The Gift of the [unclear: ma] suffers from over sophistication. The couple of the original story were essentially simple naive in their desire to give each other a Christmas present. The climax of the story is spoilt because of unnecessary window shopping by Jeanne Grain and Farley Granger. The two main characters are miscast: both players are not sincere enough, or open, or uncomplicated
"Full House's" only trump card is polish of technique But this is a doubtful virtue. A bright, glossy surface hides simplicity and frankness. The producers should not have sacrificed those qualities.