This film, based on a short story by O. Henry, is one of five short films by five different directors released together under the title O. Henry’s Full House. All of the stories are set in New York City, but “The Gift of the Magi” is the only one set at Christmas. All of the stories feature O. Henry’s ironic surprise endings. This segment was directed by Henry King and stars Farley Granger and Jeanne Crain.
Jim Young (Farley Granger) and his wife, Della (Jeanne Crain), live in near poverty in lower Manhattan, while dreaming of an extravagant Christmas and the beautiful gifts they would love to give each other. Jim’s prized possession is a pocket watch, and his wife longs to give him a platinum watch fob. Della prizes her long, flowing hair, and Jim would like to give her tortoise-shell combs. On Christmas Eve, Jim pawns his watch to buy the combs, and Della sells her hair to buy the watch fob. Rather than being devastated by the ironic twist of fate, they see the humor in the situation and optimistically celebrate their love.
NEW YORK CONNECTION
The story is set in the gritty streets of lower Manhattan, including the only shot of the city’s old elevated trains in our Christmas watchlist.
The story is set on Christmas Eve, and there are naturally snowy streets and Santa ringing his bell seeking donations for the kettle.
Fred Kesley (the cop) appears in Christmas in Connecticut, Larceny Inc., The Man Who Came to Dinner and Never Say Goodbye. Fritz Feld (the hairdresser) has a sparkling role as the psychiatrist in Bringing Up Baby. Harry Hayden (the boss) played the banker in Good Sam.
I haven’t found any Astaire connections for this movie.
WHY WE LOVE THIS MOVIE
It’s a short, delightful story, but we especially like the scenery of old New York.