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 5, 1947 (Premiere)/April 19, 1947 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

it happened on 5th avenue aloysius t mckeever dog victor moore

I’m eccentric!

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.  Jim 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 and is invited to join him.  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?

it happened on 5th avenue michael j occonnor charles ruggle christmas

I hear Bolivia is the Tin Capital of the World!

Directed by Roy Del Ruth, It Happened on 5th Avenue is a family screwball-comedy holiday movie.  It 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 the film is now readily available online and in physical media.

The movie has a bit of an odd history, and as a result, I did not grow up with it despite its very wholesome holiday feel.  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.

it happened on 5th avenue christmas scene cast

The jig is up…maybe?

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 (there is a later parallel conversation where Aloysius thinks Mike and Mary might be thinking of sex as well).

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 good 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.  It is also always strange to see Alan Hale Jr. (aka Skipper) in another role if you grew up watching Gilligan’s Island reruns.

it happened on 5th avenue gale storm don defore italian restaurant

Hard to have a nice relaxing meal with all the yelling and Russian folk music

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 screwball comedy plots that never could happen in real life…but it works and comes off as nice and sentimental as a result.  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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