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Film / It Happened on 5th Avenue
aka: It Happened On Fifth Avenue

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A Christmas-themed 1947 comedy film directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring Victor Moore, Gale Storm, Don DeFore, Charles Ruggles, and Ann Harding.

Aloysius T. "Mac" McKeever (Moore) is an itinerant hobo who spends his winters living in a Fifth Avenue mansion owned by the wealthy industrialist Michael O'Connor (Ruggles), left vacant and boarded up each year while O'Connor and his family are relocated to Virginia until spring. He sneaks in through a manhole, turns on the heat and electricity, helps himself to some of the generous food supply in the larder, and even "borrows" O'Connor's clothing.

One day in the park Mac encounters Jim Bullock (DeFore), a war veteran who has recently been made homeless thanks to O'Connor buying his apartment building and demolishing it to build an office building in its place. Mac generously offers to put Jim up in "his" mansion, and Jim readily accepts. Unbeknownst to either of them, O'Connor's rebellious 18-year-old daughter Trudy (Storm) has run away from boarding school and soon makes her way back to the mansion, where she enters one night to collect some of her clothes. Thinking she's a burglar, Mac and Jim confront her and Jim threatens to call the cops... until Mac quietly pulls him aside and explains his own illicit arrangement. Trudy overhears Mac's confession and, for her own amusement, decides to play along and pose as another homeless person. Naturally, she's invited to stay at the mansion too, and soon finds herself attracted to Jim. Shortly thereafter, Jim runs into an old Army buddy and his family, who are living out of their car due to the city's postwar housing shortage and could sure use a place to stay...


Meanwhile, O'Connor tracks his wayward daughter down and tries to take her back to the boarding school, but Trudy tells him about the nice young man she's fallen in love with and spills the beans about the whole squatting situation. She begs him to play along for a while so Jim won't find out she's a wealthy heiress and will love her for herself. O'Connor reluctantly agrees, and poses as another yet homeless person who Trudy invites to the mansion. Mac, who's increasingly put out at having to share "his" home with an ever-growing list of strangers, starts lording it over the newcomer, scolding him for failing to do his share of the household chores and so forth. Then O'Connor's estranged wife Mary (Harding), Trudy's mother, comes into the picture...


Tropes appearing in this film:

  • Cigar Chomper: Much to O'Connor's chagrin, Mac is always smoking his fine cigars.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Mary arrives and cooks slumgullion, an Irish stew type dish which O'Connor recognizes instantly. And it's how they first met and fell in love.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Mac tells Mike he's going to have to take a job to help pay for replenishing the food supply in the mansion's larder, the latter angrily declares "Neither you nor any man is going to make me do manual labor." Cut to O'Connor shoveling snow.
  • Here We Go Again!: At the end of the film O'Connor asks Mac if he has a place to stay for the winter, and he tells him he's headed for a nice place down in Virginia... O'Connor's winter home.
  • Hobos: Mac is one in a classic sense, and Bullock is one for a day or so, but the rest are not quite the hobo type.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: The whole arrangement is set up to be as wholesome as possible. When Mac finds Mary giving O'Connor a massage, he says that the older folks have to set the younger ones an example of decency.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mike O'Connor, especially after his Character Development. Even early on, he's willing to pretend to be a hobo and live well below his means with squatters in his own house, for the sake of his daughter.
  • King Incognito: The whole O'Connor family does this. First, Trudy does it to make sure Bullock is in love with her and not her millions, and she makes her father and mother continue the charade for the same reasons.
  • Lazy Bum: Mac. He's the one who gives the Bullock and the boys the idea to turn the old army barracks into homes.
  • Mr. Fanservice: We first encounter Bullock in boxer shorts and handcuffed to a bed. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • New Year Has Come: The film climaxes at New Year's.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Mary is giving O'Connor a much needed massage, and Mac walks in... and thinks it's something a little more romantic.
  • ...Or So I Heard: During dinner one evening Mac and Jim start talking about the O'Connors—not realizing they're right there at the table with them—and Mac makes mention that Mr. O'Connor is "the second-richest man in the world":
    O'Connor: Almost the richest. (catching himself) Er... so I hear.
  • The Place: Well, it did happen on Fifth Avenue!
  • Pretty in Mink: Mac and Bullock think that Trudy is stealing from the house especially when she puts on the mink coat.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Trudy wears one to get Bullock's attention...and it works.
  • Running Gag: Mac and the boys keep finding O'Connor on the phone selling his stocks as per usual, and each time they think he's an off his rocker homeless man.
  • Shout-Out: Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, and Van Johnson all get namechecked.

Alternative Title(s): It Happened On Fifth Avenue