O’Henry’s Full House, based on stories by O’Henry, with contribution from…nine other writers
John Steinbeck introduces this exhilarating film based on a few of the stories of one of the most amusing writers ever.
Howard Hawks and Jean Negulesco are among the five directors in charge of the segments of the motion picture
Charles Laughton is the star of the first part, in which we can admire Marilyn Monroe, twenty-six at the time.
The first part is dedicated to The Cop and the Anthem, wherein the hero tries hard to get to…jail.
For most of the story he is unsuccessful, in spite of the mischief he creates, eating, drinking and smoking a cigar in a restaurant, insulting people and appropriating an umbrella from a stranger and then giving it to a streetwalker aka Marilyn Monroe.
The most impressive parts are: The Last Leaf, The Gift of the Magi and The Ransom of Red Chief.
As it happens, the notes on the respective short stories are appropriate for the film since the movie respects the main ideas from the original material…let us just limit details to The Last Leaf…
Sue and Johnsy have a studio together and this is a story about their encounter with death.
I would say that this is a psychological drama, reminding me of Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, but also of ikigai.
Pneumonia is the "Mister" as O'Henry puts it that strikes Johnsy.
When the doctor talks to her friend, he only gives one chance in ten for recovery.
Alas, one main reason for this is the fact that the patient has stopped caring.
Viktor Frankl, in his extraordinary Man's Search for Meaning writes about the Holocaust and his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps.
It was easy to identify those who would collapse from their attitude.
The survivors were those with a will to live, while those who gave away their cigarettes, the most important currency in these death camps, did not have the zest anymore died in a matter of hours.
Johnsy is tired and she watches the leafs of a vine that is visible outside her window.
There are only a few left and she says that when the last one will go, she will expire as well.
- Nonsense, protests her friend, the doctor said you would be well. It is a ten to one shot!
However, the pessimism of the convalescing woman is determinant.
Positive Psychology studies have demonstrated that those who are positive live longer, healthier lives.
Scientists have researched on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
This is one of the places with the highest number of centenarians as a proportion of the overall population.
One reason for this is their diet, which includes some purple potatoes as the main element of their meals, meat eaten rarely, a habit of getting up from the table without a full stomach, I guess it was only seventy or eighty per cent.
Nevertheless, another important factor, maybe the crucial one, is Ikigai.
These people do not retire; in fact, they do not even have a name for that and what gets them up in the morning is...
Johnsy is lacking in this vital department.
Her fate is sealed for as long as this does not change.
In fact, Johnsy is now at the last five leaves and the night is windy.
Sue is trying to protest while she is very concerned that the last leaf would fall and thus her friend, with this morbid attitude, might indeed die.
Enter the stage Old Berhman.
He is a neighbor who tries to pain and has been making the effort for a long time.
He might be the one to contradict Malcolm Gladwell and his theory that ten thousand hours of practice over a period of ten years, which means about three every day, would place one at the top of the game.
You could read Outliers and learn more about that.
Sue needs the help of Old Behrman, who is posing as a model for other artists.
In addition, she talks to him about the dramatic situation and her friend's obsession with the last leaf.
I knew O'Henry as an author of humorous tales.
This one is dramatic and the previous have not been without sad aspects.
The fact is that Johnsy recovers and Old Behrman dies of pneumonia.
Moreover, this was not a spoiler, for the astounding ending is not revealed here:
Why did Johnsy survived, what did Behrman do for this outcome?