It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)

“The world’s second richest man changes places with a hobo!” Although It Happened on 5th Avenue was actually nominated for the Academy Award for Best Story (it lost out to Miracle on 34th Street), this offbeat, slightly overlong screwball comedy is almost completely forgotten today (although it maintains somewhat of a cult following). Victor Moore steals the show as Aloyisius T. McKeever, a good-hearted, philosophical hobo who resides in a boarded-up New York City mansion while the owner, Michael J. O’Connor (Charles Ruggles), “the second richest man in the world,” winters in Virginia. The mansion soon fills up with homeless ex-G.I. Jim Bullock (Don DeFore), his wartime buddies Hank (Edward Ryan) and Whitey (Alan Hale, Jr., the “Skipper” from Gilligan’s Island), as well as their families and 18-year-old runaway Trudy (Gale Storm), who is actually O’Connor’s daughter. The shit hits the fan when O’Connor returns to the mansion and Trudy persuades him and his ex-wife Mary (Ann Harding) to pretend to be homeless in order for them to meet the new love of her life, Jim, who is working on a scheme to buy former Army camps and turn them into inexpensive family housing. Got all that? Somehow all of it works and everyone gets together for a special Christmas Eve celebration. It Happened on 5th Avenue was directed by Roy Del Ruth (Frank Capra was originally set to direct but opted instead for It’s a Wonderful Life).

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