Film Review of O. Henrys Full House, Episode 2 The Clarion Call: Does Covering Gambling Debts Allow a Childhood Acquaintance to Get Away with Murder?
Evidence from a murder identifies one perpetrator. The killer must be New York’s most infamous criminal and the investigator’s childhood pal. Will past and present ties halt or help arrest in Episode two “The Clarion Call” in “O. Henry’s Full House?”
“The Clarion Call” is the second episode in the anthology film O. Henry’s Full House by screenwriter Richard L. Breen; producer André Hakim; and director Henry Hathaway. Respective responsibility for cinematography, editing, and music is handled by Lucien Ballard, Nick DeMaggio, and Alfred Newman. The filming location is within the production studios of 20th Century Fox, the film’s distributor, at Los Angeles, California. Each one of the five episodes is introduced and narrated by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author John Steinbeck (1902-1968).
Each one of the film’s five episodes is based upon a short story by American writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910). The film lasts 117 minutes, with each episode therefore averaging 19+ minutes. It was premiered in Greensboro, North Carolina on August 7, 1952. It was released in Los Angeles on September 18, 1952 and in New York City on October 16, 1952.
Episode 2, “The Clarion Call”, begins with Barney Woods (Dale Robertson) back at work after escorting a counterfeiter to Fort Leavenworth. He finds a gold pencil holder engraved “Camptown Races 4 July 1901”. The holder is the sole evidence retrieved from one of New York City’s crime scenes. It must have been left by the killer of the victim, Norcross.
Barney gets permission to leave the station with the holder. He immediately goes to a meeting with Johnny Kernan (Richard Widmark). Johnny is a criminal whom Barney has known from childhood. He recognizes the holder as a prize which the two childhood pals won in a singing contest.
Johnny admits to the murder. But he knows how to keep Barney from arresting him. He reminds Barney of the $1,000 loan by which Barney paid gambling debts and which remains unpaid. On principle, Barney will not make an arrest until the debt is paid.
Barney collects $300 by borrowing money and cashing his insurance policy. Johnny indicates that the debt must be paid in full, not on installment. He prepares to leave for Chicago.
But The Clarion Call city editor Dave Bascom (House Peters) offers $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of Norcross’ killer. Barney receives the reward after sharing what he knows. He shows up at the New York City station before the train to Chicago leaves.
Episode 2 ends with Barney giving Johnny the reward money before then arresting him for murder.
“The Clarion Call” epitomizes O. Henry’s talent at quickly conveying character through actions and at respecting the universe’s brutal and gentle ironies.
Copyright: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 by Derdriu