It Happened on Fifth Avenue

It Happened on Fifth Avenue

3.0 1
Director: Roy Del Ruth

Cast: Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charlie Ruggles


It Happened On Fifth Avenue was easily the most ambitious movie made by the then-newly-organized Allied Artists for at least a decade after its release -- actually, as a "Roy Del Ruth Production," it was made through rather than by Allied Artists, which may explain why it stands so far apart from the Bowery Boys movies and other productions normally associated…  See more details below


It Happened On Fifth Avenue was easily the most ambitious movie made by the then-newly-organized Allied Artists for at least a decade after its release -- actually, as a "Roy Del Ruth Production," it was made through rather than by Allied Artists, which may explain why it stands so far apart from the Bowery Boys movies and other productions normally associated with Allied during this period. And amazingly, it works, mostly thanks to a genial cast and a reasonably light touch by director/producer Roy Del Ruth, and in spite of a script that needed at least one more editorial pass. Victor Moore is the star and dominant personality -- if there is one in what is, basically, an ensemble cast -- as Aloyisius T. McKeever, a genial hobo whose annual routine for finding winter quarters is to wait for multi-millionaire Michael O'Connor (Charlie Ruggles) to lock up his Fifth Avenue mansion and head to Virginia, and move in during the man's absence. He chances to meet Jim Bullock, a homeless WWII veteran (displaced, ironically, by one of O'Connor's development projects), and gives him shelter in the mansion. They become a trio when O'Connor's free-spirited daughter Trudy (Gale Storm) shows up, fleeing her finishing school, and the two men -- thinking she's an impoverished runaway from an abusive father -- take her in. She goes along with the masquerade and gradually falls in love with Jim, who also chances to meet two former army buddies (Alan Hale, Jr., Edward Ryan) who -- you guessed it -- are also desperately trying to find homes, in their cases for their wives and growing families. Now there are nine people living in the shelter of O'Connor's Fifth Avenue mansion, and in between setting up housekeeping, Jim and his two buddies manage to come up with an idea about how to build homes for veterans and their families. Trudy, her identity still a secret to the other, gets her father to meet the "squatters" incognito, in hope that he'll take to Jim, but a series of misunderstandings and his own impatience and lack-of-faith leads him to reject everything decent he sees about Trudy's friends. In desperation, to keep them from being evicted and arrested, she calls in reinforcements in the person of her mother (Ann Harding), long estranged from her father. O'Connor is still not convinced of Jim's worth, and definitely doesn't see him as a potential husband for Trudy -- and, in a comic mix-up, he ends up going head-to-head with Jim for the property where he plans to build those houses for veterans, causing them to lock horns once more. Matters do eventually fall into place, as they usually do in Christmas movies of this sort, which more closely resembles The Bells of St. Mary's or One More Spring -- to name another movie about displaced New Yorkers -- than It's A Wonderful Life (with which it is usually compared). It Happened On Fifth Avenue is usually defined as a Christmas movie, in part because of its plot time-line, but more than that, it's a movie that, like George Seaton's Miracle On 34th Street -- made the same year -- sings of the generosity of the human spirit, and the feeling of renewal that was in the air in the immediate post-World War II era, a funny, gentle, warm look at people making their way in a time when, for the first time since the Great Depression and the outbreak of the Second World War, cautious optimism seemed an appropriate approach to life. And not for nothing was this reportedly lead actor Don Defore's personal favorite of all of his movies.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
There are some viewers who rank It Happened on 5th Avenue right up there with It's a Wonderful Life in the Christmas film sweepstakes. Certainly, 5th Avenue is an appealingly sentimental, sweetly comic little film that has a very good deal of charm. However, as a film, Wonderful Life is simply much better done. There's a little bit of sloppiness in the writing of 5th Avenue, the premise -- because it is not an out-and-out fantasy as Wonderful Life is -- presents some credibility problems, and the dramatic stakes in 5th Avenue are nowhere near as high as in the Capra classic. All of that being said, it's hard to watch 5th Avenue without feeling quite touch and very well entertained. There's plenty of hokum in it, but it's so good natured and well intentioned that most people will give in to it. Plus, it boasts a really lovely performance from wonderful Victor Moore and a truly fine one from Charlie Ruggles. If Don DeFore and Gale Storm are only so-so, and if Ann Harding isn't given enough to do, these little flaws don't mar 5th Avenue's appeal. Viewers unfamiliar with the film should seek it out during the holiday season and see if they are susceptible to its charms.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
Sales rank:

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Don DeFore Jim Bullock
Ann Harding Mary O'Connor
Charlie Ruggles Michael O'Connor
Victor Moore Aloysius T. McKeever
Gale Storm Trudy O'Connor
Grant Mitchell Farrow
Edward S. Brophy Felton
Alan Hale Whitey
Cathy Carter Alice
Edward Ryan Hank
Arthur Hohl Brady
Jean Andren Secretary
Johnny Arthur Apartment Manager
Florence Auer Miss Parker
Leon Belasco Musician
James B. Cardwell Young Man in Barracks
Chester Clute Phillips
Dudley Dickerson Chauffeur
James Flavin Actor
Edward Gargan Cop
Jack George Actor
Pat Goldin Waiter
John Hamilton Harper, the Superintendent
Dorothea Kent Margie
Kingsmen Actor
William Kline Actor
Charles Lane Landlord
Carl Leviness Actor
George Lloyd Foreman
Eddie Marr Spieler
George Meader Music Store Manager
Howard Mitchell Actor
W.J. O'Brien Actor
Garry Owen Detective
Abe Reynolds Finklehoffe
Anthony Sydes Jackie Temple
Victor Travers Actor
Max Willenz Actor
Al Winters Actor
Bert Howard Actor
Philip Kieffer Actor
George Blagoi Actor
Adolph Faylauer Actor

Technical Credits
Roy Del Ruth Director,Producer
Raymond Boltz Set Decoration/Design
Lewis H. Creber Art Director
Everett Freeman Screenwriter
Victor Heerman Editor
Joe Kaufman Associate Producer
Herbert Clyde Lewis Original Story
Henry Sharp Cinematographer
Frederick Stephani Original Story
Edward Ward Score Composer

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

It Happened on Fifth Avenue 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ProfessorMS More than 1 year ago
Makes you feel gratitude for what you have. The plot is a bit flimsy, but the intention is wonderful. Victor Moore is delightful but somewhat annoying due to the nature of his character. He is a fount of wisdom to the weallthy O'Connor family. Charlie Ruggles is superb and as always, very endearing. Ann Harding is a good counterpart to Charlie, but is not given much to do in this film, which is a shame. A good lesson in how to enjoy the finer things in life on a materialistic level, yes, but also the more important things in life, such as love, and the value of each day and living with integrity. A heartwarming movie that is perfect for Christmastime.