Home Movie News ‘It Happened on 5th Avenue’: THR’s 1947 Review

‘It Happened on 5th Avenue’: THR’s 1947 Review

On April 19, 1947, Allied Artists and producer-director Roy Del Ruth unveiled the holiday-themed film in theaters. The title went on to earn an Oscar nomination in the writing category at the 20th Academy Awards. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below:

Boasting a story that has real bounce, It Happened on 5th Avenue, as produced and directed by Roy Del Ruth, is an auspicious start for the recently organized Allied Artists Productions, Inc. Steve Broidy, president of Monogram, took a large part in the organizing of Allied Artists, and to his support can go some of the praise for the success of this better picture which is going on the market through Monogram exchanges. More of the same class will distinctively raise market standards.

There is more to celebrate than there is to criticize in It Happened on 5th Avenue. The modern fable the screenplay by Everett Freeman tells, based on an original by Herbert Clyde Lewis and Frederick Stephani, with additional dialogue by Vick Knight, is, in a word, brilliant entertainment. There can be many who will wish that the picture were shorter than its five minutes less than two hours running time. There will be voices raised against the corn in which the topping gags frequently indulge. But the basic worth of this yarn is consistently far superior to the carping that can be leveled against it.

The action begins as an announcer on a 5th Avenue bus points out the boarded-up home of Michael O’Connor, reported to be the second richest main in the world. As the bus passes, a happy bum and his dog are picked up entering the grounds through a loose board in the back fence. Both subsequently enter the house and make themselves charmingly at home, the tramp availing himself of O’Connor’s sumptuous wardrobe, eating his choice food, drinking his vintage liquors and smoking his private stock cigars.

This uninvited guest later encounters an ex-service man sleeping in Central Park. He is quickly invited to share the bounty of a mansion temporarily deserted for the winter months. The third to arrive is the O’Connor daughter who drops by to pick up a fur coat from her own closets. Thought to be stealing by the two “residents,” she is reproached for her “theft” of something that is not a necessity. She finds the tramp an old darling and is more than passingly attracted to the discharged vet. So she remains to join the household. The next to be invited are a couple of Army buddies with their wives and children.

When these fellows get started on a promotion to house returning service men in converted army camps, the O’Connor daughter thinks it is time her father took a hand. So she sells him the idea of returning to his own residence in the guise of a tramp. Then she works the same routine upon her mother, who some years before divorced father. The situation puts into play the development of both young and old romance.

Del Ruth leaves nothing out in his handling of a funny idea that he makes even funnier. There are moments of reaching that could have been more tightly edited, but Del Ruth’s direction of the central characters brings out some superlative performances.

Victor Moore has one of his most priceless roles as the jolly tramp, Mac. He misses none of its joy, and is matched in every respect by what Charlie Ruggles makes Michael O’Connor mean. This is a Ruggles who has dropped all of the tricks of his delivery to create an honest, believable personality. And speaking of personality, Ann Harding brings superb craftsmanship to her portrait of the divorced wife. Miss Harding comes into the picture quite late, then proceeds to dominate her every scene with the exquisite perfection of her playing.

Gale Storm is very lovely as the O’Connor daughter, and the ex-service man who takes her eye gains substance through the presence of Don DeFore. The other army buddies are ably portrayed by Alan Hale, Jr., who will bear watching, and Edward Ryan, Jr., of Sullivans fame. Dorothea Kent gayly plays one of the wives, and Cathy Carter is the other. Grant Mitchell has a brief part as a big-time secretary, Edward Brophy and Arthur Hohl do a riotous bit as patrolmen guarding the boarded-up mansion. Two other bits are included which are literally howls — the tailor routine by Abe Reynolds and the waiter moment by Pat Goldin.

Del Ruth’s production is uniformly handsome, and Joe Kaufman is credited as associate producer. Henry Sharp did the good-looking photography, and Lewis Creber the elaborate art direction. The music score by Edward Ward is augmented by four new songs by Harry Revel, the lyric of one by Paul Webster. Revel’s “Speak My Heart” and “It’s a Wonderful, Wonderful Feeling” are of hit calibre. — Jack D. Grant, originally published on Feb. 3, 1947.

Source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here