- One of the most refreshing movies I have ever seen. 3/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by kubichan
Victor Moore is fantastic as a homeless man who journeys between a wealthy, self made man's (Charlie Ruggles) winter and summer homes when the wealthy man is at his other home. The last words by Charlie Ruggles will make you cry for joy. "Remind me to board up that fence next year. He's coming in the front door." A unique, wonderful story. I wish everyone could see it, especially around Christmas time when it would be most appropriate.
- My favorite movie of all time 11/29/2003 12:00:00 AM by cpa4601
In the early 1970's channel 44 in Tampa would play this movie on Christmas day every year. It became a tradition with me to watch it. I soon fell in love with the movie. When I moved to Ft. Myers I went through withdrawal, not being able to get 44. One year WTBS played it and, since I had by then purchased a VCR, I taped it. Unfortunately my VCR was not working properly and my copy is very poor and getting poorer each year. Each year I scan the TV listings, hoping against hope, that some station will run it. Each year I am disappointed. I am planning to burn a DVD from my tape, but what I wouldn't give for a good copy. Now that I have cried on everyone's shoulder, let me talk about why this is my favorite all time movie. The movie was made in 1947 and captures a slice of American history that is unknown to most of us alive today. It shows a view of the hardships faced by ex-GI's in obtaining housing and employment after WW II, this surprises most of us. The movie has everything, comedy, drama, romance, philosophy, sub-plots,a feel good ending, you name it. The message of the movie is that people are more important than possessions, it puts Christ's words of "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul" more effectively than any sermon I have ever heard. This and the humorous, yet poignant interplay between the characters makes it an even better Christmas movie than It's a Wonderful Life. I have indoctrinated my wife and kids to the merits of this movie, and they enjoy seeing it almost as much as I do. I understand that the movie is in public domain, if anyone has a good copy I would be thrilled to purchase a copy of it from you.
- The secret is out. My favorite Christmas movie is now becoming a legend like "It's a Wonderful Life" 1/14/2003 12:00:00 AM by jhumlong
Yes, I dare to compare this wonderful, obscure little movie to It's A Wonderful Life!They came out a year a part and both were initially lost in obscurity. A Wonder Life was made at a big time studio (RKO), with a hallmark cast and a director that had several Oscars to his name already. It arose from the RKO vaults in the early 70's and has been shown every Christmas since then. This film actually fell out of copyright in 1976 and then as public domain, was picked up by Republic and put out on VHS about the time that Ted Turner bought the RKO Film Library from General Tire. It Happened on 5th Avenue was made a year (1947)later by a poverty row studio, Monogram (Allied Artists) with a shoe string budget and a venerable director by the name of Roy Del Ruth, from the silent screen days and actors that for the most part ( besides Victor Moore and Charles Ruggles and Ann Harding) had just started acting within a 5-6 year period. The plot was far from ingenious and the storyline was almost comical. What came out was a film that tugged at your heart strings with emotion and sentiment.It has my vote for the all time favorite Christmas film. I am lucky enough to have an original 16mm film copy and a VHS tape of the film. There were few negatives struck of the film for cost reasons so not many positives are in circulation today. I got mine from a TV studio film package I purchased in the early 70's from a Tampa Florida TV station. The copyright was never renewed as in It's a Wonderful Life so any prints out there are public domain. I would love to put out a DVD and let a new generation enjoy this little gem as much as mine has. Remember the line, A man without friends is the most serious form of poverty. That line was a great quote in the film and stands truer today than ever.
- Sweet and intelligent 9/1/2009 12:00:00 AM by jayraskin1
This is a very sweet and funny movie. It gently pokes fun at class and social differences. It has a liberal romantic view of homelessness that is similar to the romantic view of poverty that Charles Dickens presents. It is close to "Sullivan's Travels" in its humor.
I watched the movie for Gale Storm who became a big television star in the 1950's on "My Little Margie" and "the Gale Storm Show". She is fine, even more natural, relaxed and open in her performance than on the later television shows.
The big surprise for me was Dom Defore as the romantic lead. He played a best friend on Ozzie and Harriet for five years and was the lead on a dismal 60's television comedy called Hazel for five more years. He's actually quite good here.
Victor Moore as the Hobo and Charlie Ruggles as the rich man are delicious. The scenes where they trade places are hilarious. There's a nice chemistry between these two old pros who actually starred in silent movies.
The director, Roy Del Ruth, also started out in silent films as a gag-man and writer for the great Mack Sennett (who discovered Charlie Chaplin). His silent film background contributes to the many delightful visual gags in the film. The first ten minutes could almost be a silent film.
It is a nice family movie, well worth seeing. While times were never as sweet as this movie portrays them, the movie does suggest that a more humane ethic existed at this time than we generally see around us today.
- Sweet and enjoyable... 10/20/2009 12:00:00 AM by MartinHafer
In some ways, IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE is like a reworking of the marvelous 1941 film, THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES. Both films consist of an old rich crank (in THE DEVIL it was Charles Coburn, here it is Charlie Ruggles) assuming the identity of a poor man--and finding friendships and love among the working poor. However, the set up for this film is truly bizarre and clever. It seems that hobo Victor Moore has made a career out of breaking into mansions while the owners are away and living like a king. But, in an odd twist, his solo act starts to include others--others who are homeless due to the housing shortage following WWII. Soon, there are eight living in the mansion of the second richest man in the world (Ruggles) and soon Ruggles himself pretends to be in need of a home--at the insistence of his lovely young daughter (who has fallen for one of the squatters, Don Defore). There's a heck of a lot more to the film's plot than this but I don't want to spoil the film by discussing the plot further.
If you think too much, the movie really is quite silly and hard to believe. However, it works very well--mostly because of the marvelous direction. While the film could have been played for wacky laughs (and there are many opportunities for this), the director instead chose to emphasize the humanity of the characters as well as a fundamental sweetness to them. In many cases, the laughs take a back seat to allowing this goodness to slowly come out through the course of the film. In doing this, it avoided overt laughs but instead is a very sentimental and nice film--but never cloying. Of course, the acting sure helped as well. Victor Moore was a joy to behold and this is one of his best roles (for his best, I suggest you see MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW). Likewise, Ruggles is excellent as the rather befuddled but ultimately likable mega-millionaire. As for the rest of the cast, they were very good as well and it was nice to see Ann Harding (who had virtually retired from films since being a star in the 1930s), Don Defore ('Mr. B' from "Hazel") and Alan Hale, Jr. (in a non-goofy role that is light-years from "Gilligan's Island").