This week’s mystery movie was the 1947 Allied Artists picture “It Happened on Fifth Avenue,” with Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charlie Ruggles, Gale Storm, Grant Mitchell, Edward Brophy, Alan Hale Jr., Dorothea Kent, Edward Ryan Jr. and Cathy Carter.
Screenplay by Everett Freeman, additional dialogue by Vick Knight, original story by Herbert Clyde Lewis and Frederick Stephani.
“It’s a Wonderful Wonderful Feeling,” “That’s What Christmas Means to Me” and “Speak — My Heart” by Harry Revel. “You’re Everywhere” by Paul Webster and Harry Revel, vocals by The King’s Men.
Photography by Henry Sharp, production manager Glenn Cook, assistant director Frank Fox, edited by Richard Heermance, music editor G.K. Wood, art direction by Lewis Creber, set decorations by Ray Boltz.
Recording by Corson Jowett, chief electrician John Lee, makeup by Harry Ross, furs by Willard George, fashion supervision by Lorraine MacLean, assistant to the producer Clarence Bricker.
Associate producer Joe Kaufman.
Produced and directed by Roy Del Ruth.
“It Happened on Fifth Avenue” is available on DVD from TCM.
I chose “It Happened on Fifth Avenue” because of the massive ad campaign in the trade papers of 1947. The movie was heavily promoted and previewed frequently before its release. This was a major production by Monogram, home of many low-budget westerns, as it transitioned to Allied Artists.
Given the sentimental nature of the film (usually shown at Christmas because of the holiday scenes at the end of the picture) it’s no surprise that this was originally a Frank Capra project, acquired by Roy Del Ruth. After World War II, Capra, with William Wyler and Samuel J. Brisken, organized Liberty Films at RKO. (Wyler owed Samuel Goldwyn a picture from before he went into the service and made “The Best Years of Our Lives,” originally titled “Glory for Me.”) According to Capra’s autobiography, he was intent on not making another war picture. Capra eventually settled on “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which underscores even more strongly many of the same themes of “It Happened on Fifth Avenue.”
Marked by a theme that’s refreshing and different, this exceptionally good comedy should provide excellent entertainment for the entire family. For thinking people it carries a message about human relationships that is timely and thought-provoking. Fine performances are topped by Victor Moore and Charlie Ruggles.
The picture has potent box-office possibilities, so any exhibitor who neglects to give it the right kind of advance exploitation will be cheating himself out of the returns the picture warrants.
A light, entertaining comedy with a refreshing note and an appeal that is universal. Such is this first picture under the new Allied Artists setup which was formed to make only top product. “It Happened on Fifth Avenue” is a top job of picture-making in all departments, on a par with much of the product released by the majors.
Bosley Crowther, writing in the New York Times (June 11, 1947) said:
A favorite Hollywood pastime – in its films, anyhow – is that of deflating stuffed shirts and melting frigid hearts. The boys go for such an opportunity like a snowball goes for a silk hat. And so it is not surprising to find this ancient monkeyshine indulged again in the Rivoli’s current antic, “It Happened on Fifth Avenue.” It is not surprising to find it, but is is surprising to discover it done with as much geniality and humor as is evident in this modest comedy.
For Roy Del Ruth and the others who helped him making this film apparently went about it as though they were on a new tack. They took that dog-eared story of the hard-hearted millionaire given a lesson in human relations by a kindly disposed vagabond and they dressed it up in such trimmings as to make it look almost fresh. And they found themselves fortunately supported by a charming performance from Victor Moore.
For Monday, we have a mystery limousine, a mystery chauffeur and mystery Back of the Head Woman.
Update: This is Dudley Dickerson and Gale Storm as Back of the Head Woman. The mystery limousine is a 1941 Cadillac Model 67.
For Tuesday, we have this mystery gent, who does not approve of such goings-on. His companion has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness. He will appear Friday. (Oops, make that Thursday).
Update: This is the full frame of Charlie Ruggles and Abe Reynolds.
We furthermore have this mystery woman.
Update: This is Cathy Carter.
And finally, we have this mystery gentleman. He approves of such goings-on.
Update: This is George Meader.
Brain Trust roll call: Anne Papineau (Monday’s mystery chauffeur, wrong movie) and Jenny M. (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery chauffeur and Monday’s Back of the Head Woman).
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have these somewhat but not too mysterious chaps. And no, nobody in this image approves of such goings-on.
Update: This is Arthur Hohl and Edward Brophy.
Also for “Hm Wednesday,” we have these somewhat mysterious gents and, believe it or not, nobody in this image approves of such goings-on.
Update: This is Alan Hale Jr., Edward Ryan and Charles Lane.
For “Aha Thursday,” we have this pensive mystery woman in polka dots.
Update: This is Ann Harding.
We have this equally pensive mystery gent.
Update: This is Charlie Ruggles.
And this mystery fellow? He approves of such goings-on. He isn’t the least bit pensive. And he’s good at pool.
Update: This is Victor Moore.
Brain Trust roll call: Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery cop No. 2 and Wednesday’s mystery landlord), Mary Mallory (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery chauffeur, two of Tuesday’s mystery guests, and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Michael Ryerson (mystery movie and three of Wednesday’s mystery guests), Anne Papineau (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery tailor, mystery music store manager, Wednesday’s mystery cops and mystery landlord and aspiring tenants), Sylvia E. (Wednesday’s mystery cop No. 2 and mystery landlord), Diane Ely (Wednesday’s mystery landlord), Stevo (Monday’s mysterious Back of the Head Woman and interesting information about her), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie), Gary (Wednesday’s mysterious landlord), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast), Benito (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery landlord and mysterious future skipper) and Roget-L.A. (right actors, and as incredible as it may seem, the wrong movie).
For Friday, we have this mystery woman….
Update: This is Dorothea Kent in her next to last picture.
…And our mysterious leading man gives the mystery leading lady some pointers on an over/under shotgun.
Update: This is Gale Storm and Don DeFore.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Michael Ryerson (Thursday’s mystery guests), Earl Boebert (Monday’s mystery Cadillac), Gary (Thursday’s mystery gents), Roget-L.A. (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), Sylvia E. (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery guests, Monday’s mystery chauffeur and Tuesday’s mystery music store manager) and Chrisbo (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery guests and Wednesday’s mysterious skipper and mean landlord).