:Five O' Henry stories, each separate. The primary one from the critic's acclaim was "The Cop and the Anthem". Soapy tells fellow bum Horace that he is going to get arrested so he can spend the winter in a nice jail cell. He fails. He can't even accost a woman; she (Marilyn Monroe) turns out to be a streetwalker. The other stories are "The Clarion Call" (Robertson, Widmark); "The Last Leaf" (Baxter, Peters, Ratoff), "The Ransom of Red Chief" (Allen, Levant, Aaker), and "The Gift of the Magi" (Crain, Granger).
John Steinbeck introduces five of O. Henry's most popular short stores. In "The Cop and the Anthem" a homeless alcoholic is increasingly frustrated in numerous attempts to get arrested and jailed for 90 days in a warm cell rather than face the rigors of a New York winter. In "The Clarion Call" a NYPD detective has a crisis of conscience when he is torn between his duty to arrest a childhood friend for a murder only he knows he committed and the debt of honor he owes to him. In "The Last Leaf" a naive young girl is stricken with pneumonia after being seduced and jilted by venal actor. When she loses her will to live, her devoted sister and an eccentric Greenwich Village artist try to help her to survive. In "The Ransom of Red Chief" two bumbling con men kidnap the son of a rural sheriff for ransom but find they've taken on more than they can handle. In "The Gift of the Magi" an impoverished but devoted young couple struggle to pay for Christmas gifts worthy of their mutual love.