We're celebrating the season with some of our favorite Christmas movies. This week's selection is It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947), which is airing tonight (Dec. 4, 2015) on TCM.
It Happened on 5th Avenue is a delightful holiday comedy that was forgotten for decades but has made a resurgence in recent years.
The film begins with hobo Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore) setting up winter quarters in the boarded-up Fifth Avenue mansion of "the second richest man in the world" Michael J. O'Connor (Charles Ruggles). For several years, McKeever has lived in the mansion -- wearing O'Connor's fancy clothes and eating his fine food--while O'Connor winters in Virginia. One day, The kindly McKeever meets a homeless ex-G.I. Jim Bullock (Don DeFore), and offers him a place to sleep. Soon several of Bullock's old army buddies, along with their wives and children, join McKeever and Bullock in the Manhattan manse.
|Gale Storm sings in It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947).|
|Hobo Aloysius T. McKeever and his dog lead the good life in It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947).|
|It Happened on 5th Avenue star Gale Storm autographed this poster from the 1947 film.|
|Victor Moore (left), Gale Storm and Don DeFore stand behind a process shot of the Indian Hunter statue in Central Park.|
|Ex G.I. Jim Bullock (Don DeFore) gives socialite Trudy O'Connor (Gale Storm) shooting lessons in It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947).|
Charles Ruggles was one of the most prolific actors in old Hollywood, although he is probably best known today for his roles in screwball comedies. Ruggles gives a fine performance in It Happened on 5th Avenue, restraining his usual fussy mannerisms to play the role of a powerful man who is used to getting exactly what he wants but deep down longs for love and admiration. The luminous Ann Harding was a star of many weepy melodramas during the early thirties, but in this film, she is a haughty socialite who is only able to reveal her tender side when she is masquerading as a maid.
|Hobo Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore) toasts his houseguests in It Happened on 5th Avenue.|
It Happened on 5th Avenue was a box-office and critical hit in 1947. The film was nominated for Best Original Story but it lost to another 1947 Chrismas classic, Miracle on 34th Street. It Happened on 5th Avenue was overshadowed by It's a Wonderful Life through the years and the film largely faded into obscurity until the Internet came along and many people watched it on YouTube. Positive word of mouth spead and It Happened on 5th Avenue was released on DVD in 2008 and began appearing regularly on TCM and Hallmark channels. Thanks to the increased exposure, It Happened on 5th Avenue has taken its place alongside other treasured Christmas classics of old Hollywood.
It Happened on 5th Avenue will air at 8 p.m. tonight (Dec. 4, 2015) on TCM and at 10 a.m. Dec. 20, 2015 on TCM. It is available on DVD and video on demand. It Happened on 5th Avenue is in the public domain so it is also available for viewing on media sharing sites like YouTube and the Internet Archive.