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The working titles of this film were The Full House, Bagdad on the Subway and O. Henry's Bagdad on the Subway. The film's opening and ending credits are in different order, and the ending credits specify the actors, writers and directors of each segment. O. Henry's short stories have been anthologized in numerous books, including his The Four Million (New York, 1906). According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Twentieth Century-Fox was considering producing a biography of O. Henry in 1943, and later, in 1945, announced that it would be filming a full-length version of "The Gift of the Magi," to be produced by Otto Preminger.
According to a May 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, Clifton Webb was originally set for the part of "Sam 'Slick' Brown," but when he was occupied with production of Stars and Stripes Forever (see below), the role was given to Fred Allen. Modern sources add that Nunnally Johnson wrote the screenplay of "The Ransom of Red Chief" specifically for Webb and William Demarest, and after the casting of Allen and Oscar Levant, director Howard Hawks asked Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer to re-write the script. Johnson then requested that his name be removed from the film's credits before its release because he was displeased with the finished segment. Although only Walter Bullock is credited onscreen as the writer of "The Gift of the Magi," the Newsweek review and a studio synopsis list Philip Dunne as co-author of the segment.
Although Joyce MacKenzie is listed in the onscreen credits, her role of "Hazel Woods" in "The Cop and the Anthem" was cut before film was released. A November 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item includes Heinie Conklin in the cast of "The Gift of the Magi," but his appearance in the finished picture has not been confirmed. The film marked the screen debut of Carl Betz, and the only feature film appearance of author John Steinbeck.
All five segments were included in the film's initial release, but according to contemporary sources, in early October 1952, before the film's New York opening on 16 Oct, the studio re-edited the picture to exclude "The Ransom of Red Chief." A October 5, 1952 New York Times news item quoted studio officials as saying "it would be a better picture without" the segment. In a October 26, 1952 New York Times article, critic Bosley Crowther pointed out that the title O. Henry's Full House was a minsomer, as the film contained only four stories, and suggested that it ought to be changed to O. Henry's Four of a Kind.
O. Henry's stories have been the basis for many shorts, including a series of two-reel Vitagraph shorts in the 1910s; a 1909 Biograph short entitled The Sacrifice, based on "The Gift of the Magi (see AFI Catalog. 1893-1910); and a 1935 short entitled Dumb Luck, which was based on "The Ransom of Red Chief." Thomas Mitchell portrayed O. Henry in a 1957 syndicated television series entitled The O. Henry Playhouse. The series presented thirty-minute long versions of O. Henry stories and lasted for thirty-nine episodes. Full-length versions of O. Henry's stories include two television productions: the 1958 CBS musical Gift of the Magi, directed by George Schaefer and starring Gordon MacRae and Sally Ann Howes; and the 1978 NBC drama The Gift of Love, directed by Don Chaffey and starring Marie Osmond and Timothy Bottoms.