Monday, December 12, 2016

Film Flick: It Happened on 5th Avenue

We're continuing a holiday tradition on Never Fully Dressed by sharing some classic holiday films. Some might be institutions in your home this time of year; others might be delightful new friends, but they're all sure to impart some the season's spirit and sense of fun. Consider it my way of wishing you and yours nothing but the very merriest.  

Its not on the top of any Christmas film lists- but if you are looking for something heart-warming if a little schmaltzy- look no further than finding out what it was that happened when they say It Happened on 5th Avenue.

As the soldiers return from war, New York is facing a housing crisis! This causes several people to be out of housing- right before Christmas! One such is an ex-G.I. Jim (Don DeFore). He makes the papers after calling the landlord evicting him an octopus, but gets better luck when he meets a Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore). This enterprising hobo has been living in an unoccupied mansion on 5th Avenue and opens his doors to Jim. They later meet a young woman, Trudy (Gale Storm), when she enters into the house. They take her for a thief, but she is not what she seems- in fact, she's the daughter of the mansion-owner! Trudy and Jim both invite more people into the mansion till its quite a full house!  Jim invites his war time buddies and their young families, while Trudy- well, she invites her mother (Ann Harding) and father (Charles Ruggles) to be at the house under assumed identities so they can meet Jim. Trudy has her eyes on marrying him, but Dad does not approve- not that he can say as much when he's pretending to be a hobo too. All the mistaken identities, trespassing, and hijinks leads to many ridiculous situations that come to a head on Christmas Eve. Will happy endings prevail or will everyone end up in the clink? 

Despite being released in 1947, this film has more of a feeling of a 1930's screwball comedy, a la Frank Capra. In fact, the story was originally optioned by Frank Capra's Liberty Films in 1945, and intended to be the company's first production. Later that year, producer-director Roy Del Ruth acquired the story. It became the first production of the studio Allied Artists. Still, Frank Capra was among various celebrities who endorsed the film (Frank Capra had decided to pass up this story to pursue Its a Wonderful Life). This actually did not work for the film as positively as may have been hoped. Some critics looked down on the many stars and said instead that film was mildly entertaining but not worth all the praise. Those critics may have been wrong though, as the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

It didn't win..... and not such a big surprise after all. Still, get a cozy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa, and It Happened One on 5th Avenue can make for a pleasant evening under the glow of Christmas lights. 

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