It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)

it happened on fifth avenue poster 1947 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 6/10

Nicely written comedy

Rather typical of the time, some weak visuals

Movie Info

Movie Name:  It Happened on Fifth Avenue

Studio:  Roy Del Ruth Productions

Genre(s):  Comedy/Romance/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  April 19, 1947

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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I’m wacky!

Jim Bullock (Don DeFore) is having a tough time.  The war vet has been evicted by Michael J. O’Connor (Charles Ruggles) who bought his apartment building, and he can’t make ends meet.  When he meets a homeless man named Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore) who has taken up winter squatters’ residence in the abandoned New York Mansion owned by O’Connor.  When O’Connor’s daughter Trudy (Gale Storm) runs away from finishing school, she finds Jim and Aloysius staying in her home.  Posing as homeless herself, she falls in love with Jim.  Mary convinces her father to pose as a homeless man named Mike to get to know Jim, and O’Connor finds himself caught up in Jim and his friends’ plans to build a housing barracks for families.  When the relationship gets rocky, Mary calls in her estranged mother Mary (Ann Harding) to join the group…but will Michael wreck Jim’s chances with Mary?

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Give me back my house!

Directed by Roy Del Ruth, It Happened on 5th Avenue was released on April 19, 1947 and garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Story (losing to Miracle on 34th Street).  The movie remained unreleased for years, but now is available in multi-movie packs among other holiday films.

The movie has a bit of an odd history.  The picture was originally optioned for Frank Capra but Capra chose to take It’s a Wonderful Life instead.  The movie then remained in obscurity for years and finally became back in print on 2008 and has had a bit of a resurgence.

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Let’s have more romantic angst!

The movie is one of those classic comedy style films of hijinks.  It is generally classified as a Christmas movie since one of the pivotal scenes takes place at Christmas time (the conclusion features New Year’s Eve).  The script is quite smart and an example of it is a rather interesting conversation about sex (veiled of course) involving a moment when O’Connor believes his daughter has had an illegitimate child with Jim.

The movie has a rather strong cast that works well together.  The star of the movie is Victor Moore who is the homeless man who has made O’Connor’s home his home, and he does work well with Charles Ruggles whom he believes is a fellow homeless man. Ruggles is strong as the meddling father set in his ways, and he plays nicely off Ann Harding.  Don DeFore and Gale Storm are a rather generic ’40s couple but fit the role nicely.

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It’s a homeless family Christmas!

Visually, the movie is pretty typical of films from this period.  most of the scenes are sets and there are some bad projection scenes.  I wish that the movie had really utilized New York City taken advantage of the location…much like its Oscar competitor Miracle on 34th Street which looked better.

The movie is one of the ridiculous plots that never could happen in real life…but it works.  I also could see it being remade sometime despite the plot.  It had a lot of witty banter and is a nice romantic comedy.  You could definitely do worse for a different Christmas holiday movie so check out this fun film.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

2 Comments on "It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)"

  1. John December 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    This is a good movie. You made many good points and synopsis. The one error is that Gale Storm played the young daughter, Ann Harding was the mother. Gale Storm died this year.
    Charles Ruggles could drive a person in their 50’s and 60’s crazy, as he did the voice work for the Bullwinkle Show segments of Aesop’s fables.

    • JPRoscoe December 29, 2015 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Thanks, the name confusion is switched!

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