Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Christmas classic, 23 Dec 2009
This review is from: It Happened on 5th Avenue [DVD] [2008] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Every year during the Christmas season, I enjoy watching some of the best from my Christmas movie collection. It feels great to watch, again and again, such classics as; It's a Wonderful Life, Scrooge (starring Seymour Hicks), Miracle on 34th Street (starring Maureen O'Hara), White Christmas, Bishop's Wife, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Home Alone2, Christmas Wife (starring Jason Robards) and even movies set in Christmas times, such as; Apartment, Holiday (starring Cary Grant & Katharine Hepburn), Little Women (starring Katharine Hepburn), Christmas in Connecticut, Meet me in St Louis, Desk Set and Night & Day. This movie, `It Happened on 5th Avenue' is set in winter in New York, partly around the Christmas season. This is reminiscent of Frank Capra-style dynamics; in some way similar to the all-time classic, "It's a wonderful life."

The story is set in New York during the housing crunch just after the WWII. Folks, including many war veterans, find any way they can to have an affordable accommodation, especially during the winter. A drifter named Aloysious T. McKeever, a.k.a. Mac (Victor Moore) solves his housing problem by staying in a luxury home belonging to a wealthy investor named, Michael O'Connor (Charles Ruggles), when O'Connor stays in Virginia during winter, and his ex-wife Mary O'Connor (Ann Harding) resides in Florida. The devious scheme of Mac work so well that he invites new homeless folks like war veteran Jim Bullock (Don DeFore), and his war-buddies, Hank and Whitey and their families. When O'Connor's daughter, Trudy O'Connor (Gale Storm) enters her father's house, the "free-loaders" think that she is a run-away. She plays along with them as another homeless girl, and soon starts to enjoy the company of the new residents, and eventually falls in love with Jim Bullock. When O'Connor arrives in New York and finds Trudy leaving for her new job at a music shop, he insists that she must go back to school. Trudy expresses her love for Jim Bullock to her father. O'Connor agrees to meet Jim, and reluctantly agrees to pose as a drifter, and becomes a "house guest," doing menial chores which he is not accustomed to. Finally O'Connor gets frustrated and tries to call the police, in the meantime Trudy sends for her mother. Mary O'Connor joins the household as another "hobo" and then rekindles her love for her ex-husband. On Christmas Eve, Mac encourages them to get married unaware of their true relationship. Eventually all turns well after Mary makes Michael O'Connor realize that money is not everything. He accepts Jim as his son-in-law, and helps him and his war buddies, Whitey and Hank to buy Camp Kilson and renovate the vacant army barracks into housing projects.

In the final analysis, in the spirit of Charles Dickens, the "Christmas-spirit of the Past" of O'Connor doesn't have much in his future. The "Christmas-spirit of the Future" scares him when he sees the "light" through the eyes of his wife and realize that he was immersed himself in his financial world and completely forgot how beautiful Mary is and what he missed all these years, the true happiness of married life.

I was hoping to see a little more Yuletide spirit; Christmas wreaths decorating the walls of churches, homes, shops, buildings and streets. Christmas trees, singing Christmas carols in the background, women and children shopping for the holidays in New York, and the whole atmosphere of celebration as we see in the movie "Home Alone." Unfortunately this is absent; director Roy Del Ruth missed a great opportunity to make this a true classic, but he is able to show the tender side of human nature using writers who have put their minds and hearts. Ann Harding and Victor Moore have offered brilliant performances.

1. It's A Wonderful Life (Colourised) [DVD] [1946]
2. Scrooge (1935) [DVD] (Digitally remastered in colour)
3. Home Alone [DVD] [1990]
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