Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE (1947). Director: Roy Del Ruth.

Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore) is a bum who lives in boarded up mansions while the owners are away for the season. His latest domicile is the Fifth Avenue mansion of Michael O'Connor (Charles Ruggles). A new interloper in the mansion is a homeless soldier, Jim (Don DeFore), and through him a couple of families with children who also need a place to stay. Popping into the mansion for a coat is O'Connor's daughter, Trudy (Gale Storm), who doesn't tell anyone who she is, and when her father and divorced mother (Ann Harding) show up, swears them to secrecy as well. So the world's richest man pretends to be a bum while a hobo dines on his food and wears his clothing ... only in Hollywood! It Happened on Fifth Avenue is meant to be a frothy, hilarious social comedy, but it falls utterly flat. First of all, no movie can convince anyone that it's better to be a homeless hobo than to have money and security -- of course O'Connor is the stereotype of the rich man who has lost touch with real values -- and the film is miscast and not very funny. Don DeFore could be fine in certain roles such as in Too Late for Tears, but he's not exactly Cary Grant. Pretty Gale Storm is equally competent, but this was before she developed a real flair for comedy as on My Little Margie. Victor Moore and Charlie Ruggles are old pros, as is Ann Harding [The Unknown Man], who is pretty much wasted as Trudy's mother; all are given sub-standard material. Grant Mitchell of The Man Who Came to Dinner is his customary tight-assed self. Alan Hale Jr. [Advance to the Rear], later of Gilligan's Island, is fine as one of Jim's soldier buddies. Although Gale Storm could sing and even cut some recordings in later years, her singing voice is dubbed in this.

Verdict: Almost like watching paint dry. *1/2.

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