It Happened on Fifth Avenue
(It Happened on 5th Avenue)

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Writer: Everett Freeman (screenplay)

  • Don DeFore — Jim Bullock
  • Alan Hale Jr. — Whitey Temple
  • Ann Harding — Mary O'Connor
  • Victor Moore — Aloysius T. McKeever
  • Charles Ruggles — Michael J. O'Connor
  • Gale Storm — Trudy O'Connor
Universal Pictures: 1947
black & white; 116 minutes
colorized version available
January 2013

A warm romantic comedy

It Happened on Fifth Avenue is a light romantic comedy, rather more good-natured comedy than romance. It takes place from the beginning of November through New Year's Day, and is considered a peripherally Christmastime movie.

The locale is more significant than the season, however. Fifth Avenue in New York City is where many of the historic mansions were built for American moguls in the Nineteenth Century; many of these grand residences lingered into the Twentieth, hemmed and pressed by skyscrapers. Most of the action takes place at the mansion of the fabulously wealthy Michael O'Connor; the huge house is boarded up for the winter season, as the family is dispersed elsewhere.

A genial hobo, Aloyisius T. McKeever (played by Victor Moore), has discovered the seasonally empty mansion, and has discreetly over-wintered there during the past several seasons, keeping his stays secret and leaving it in clean condition every Spring. This year, the plan develops complexities. Jim Bullock (played by Don DeFore) is evicted from his apartment when the building is schedule for redevelopment by the O'Connor interests. A couple of his ex-Army buddies and their wives are in a similar homeless situation, and with McKeever's invitation, all wind up in the ostensibly empty O'Connor mansion. Veterans and hobos find post-World War II economic affinities, as returning G.I.'s struggle to find places in the peacetime economy.

Mixing with this ex-Army influx, young Trudy O'Connor (played by Gale Storm) has run off from her finishing school and soon is hiding from her father in the family mansion. Michael O'Connor (Charles Ruggles) and his ex-wife Mary (Ann Harding) eventually become directly involved as well.

A major missed opportunity in the film was the refusal of the director to allow the vivacious actress and fine singer Gale Storm to sing her own songs. Foolish, to put it gently.

It Happened on Fifth Avenue is a pleasant film, its real story being the growth of fellow-feeling among good people learning about each other and helping each other, a miniature Brotherhood of Man. The mansion's temporary cabal of residents become a kind of elective family, and all are the better for it.


© 2013 Robert Wilfred Franson

Movie posters, photographs, etc.
for It Happened on Fifth Avenue
at the Gale Storm fan site

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