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Newly wed true lovers Jim and Della Young can barely afford moving into to their new apartment, especially when the second-hand car breaks down. They agree not to buy Chrismas presents that year, but each decide to do s secretly and earn extra cash at each's own hobby's expense to spoil the other in his. Their best friends discover the truth and how the secrecy made the separate indefinitely. Written by
Not much of O.Henry's Gift here, but it's Christmasy-watchable
O.Henry's short story is very very short,and in the 50's movie Gift of the Magi is only one of the tales, so it is to be expected that a lot had to be added to the plot to extend it to two hours.At times,yes, it feels like some water has been added to the stew, and it is not as savory. Still,one can certainly find some tasty morsels in it,especially the overall acting quality and the sweet and friendly atmosphere of goodwill surrounding the piece.
It's a working class town,and it's pretty bleak, not the yuppie glittery ambiance one often finds in many a Christmas film. It's a credit to this "Gift" that it keeps the setting grim,like the story, but warms it up with the sweet feelings our couple at the center have for each other, Della and Jim (Marla Sokoloff and Mark Webber). Around them are loving families and friends, in the struggling economic mode,but they do take care of their loved ones, and the film successfully transmits this feeling of community support.
It's a parable for our actual financial clime;love will carry us through(or at least make the ride easier,just what the Magi ordered.The story turns on how Della and Jim botch up their Christmas gift list.They vow not to exchange presents, then go ahead and secretly plot otherwise. The conspiracy goes awry, and Jim gets jealous when he suspects Della of spending too much time away(she has a secret part time job)with what may be an older gentleman lover. Not much trust from Jim here?Well, if Mr. Shakespeare had Othello mistrusting Desdemona, why not this screenwriter having Jim distrust Della?Later on Jim and Della will unwittingly screw up their gift plans in what will be the heart and soul of this story.
Marla Sokoloff(Della) and Mark Webber(Jim)are great actors, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.They're fit for bigger and better roles, but they do very well by this one,thank you. Marla as Della is sweetness and light,the girl next door who blossomed into a great beauty;kind a young Sally Field with a vamp inside.Mark Webber has this boyish, intense look about him,, promising in his soulful eyes a lot of rich layers.He is perfect for this part.
The casting director should get an award, also for the very interesting supporting cast. Megan Riordan(Renee) and Tomas(Ian) Suilleabhain(Sullivan in Gaelic)are especially funky and cool as our couple's main supporting family.They have an impish kid(who's not even in the credits)who melts the screen as he gives Jim a big hug at one of Jim's low moments.
All you need is love, is the appropriate, timely message this Gift of the Magi delivers. It may not pack the surprise punch of the original story, but it does leave you with a feel good warmth.
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