Deep Roots Theater

It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)



Director: Roy Del Ruth

Producer: Roy Del Ruth (producer), Joe Kaufman (associate producer)

Music: Edward Ward

Cinematography: Henry Sharp, Director of Photography

Film Editor: Richard V.Heermance

Music Editor: T.K. Wood

Songs: “It’s a Wonderful Wonderful Feeling,” “That’s What Christmas Means to Me,” “Speak—My Heart” (lyrics and music by Harry Revel; “You’re Everywhere” (lyrics by Paul Webster, music by Harry Revel)


Don Defore (Jim Bullock)

 Ann Harding (Mary O’Connor)

Charles Ruggles (Michael J. “Mike” O’Connor)

Victor Moore (Aloysius T. McKeever)

Gale Storm (Trudy O’Connor)

Grant Mitchell (Farrow)

Edward Brophy (Gates Patrolman Cecil Felton)

Alan Hale Jr. (WhiteyTemple)

Being a female of a certain age, I have very fond and specific memories of a little movie called The Parent Trap. Not the Lindsay Lohan remake, but a film from the 1960s that starred Haley Mills, Brian Keith, and Maureen O’Hara. But the actor who has the strongest memory for me will always be an old man named Charles Ruggles who played the grandfather of Mills and father of Maureen O’Hara. There was something very familiar about Ruggles that made me instantly identify him as a familiar face…a face I realized years later has the same connection for many people. He is overlooked today, but in the 1930s his easy mix of roughness, sweetness and charm made him a star of many comedies.

Perhaps my favorite film to star Ruggles, excluding my childhood nostalgia, is a Christmas film titled It Happened on 5th Avenue. Ruggles, as he often did, plays a man of many means in the holiday film, whose has lost touch with his daughter (Gail Storm) and is divorcing his wife (Ann Harding). Ruggles, away from New York for the winter, has left his 5th Avenue mansion empty and city tramp Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore) “borrows” it, as he does every winter. With a shortage of housing in the city, war veteran Jim (Don DeFore) is taken in, as are his friends the Temples (Alan Hale Jr. and Dorothea Kent). When Trudy O’Connor (Storm) arrives expecting for her home to be empty, she pretends to be a poor single girl to stay with the make-shift family, but soon must introduce her father Mike (Ruggles) and her mother (Harding) to the uninvited house guests, asking them to pretend to be tramps as well so Jim never knows she’s one of the wealthy he despises (and more specifically, daughter of the man who bought his apartment building).


At top, from left, Charles Ruggles, Gale Storm and Don DeFore in front of Central Park’s Indian Hunter statue in 1947’s It Happened on 5th Avenue. Above,: the Indian Hunter statue today.[/caption]

It Happened on 5th Avenue may seem extremely implausible and strange, but somehow, the inner logic of the film works from start to finish. The movie is one of the few films made in the 1940s, which not only feels that it takes place in New York City but actually did film in New York City (there are several scenes which were noticeably on location). And the film benefits from this very New York centric element, as the urban tribe is alive and well in this kind of setting. Like microcosms of small towns, people come together.

If the name It Happened on 5th Avenue doesn’t ring a bell, it might be because it is sandwiched between two better known Holiday classics, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and Miracle on 34th St (1947). But in some ways, It Happened on 5th Avenue brings about two elements of these two Christmas films, the urban style of 34th St and belief and praise of community in It’s a Wonderful Life (Capra nearly directed the film before having to give up the property). And unlike It’s a Wonderful Life, which treats Mr. Potter as a mere villain, Ruggles’ wealthy Mike is a man whose redemption is completely possible, and ultimately, completely plausible.

Review by Lesley Coffin at

A production still from ‘Mickey Plays Santa’ (1942)
A production still from ‘Mickey Plays Santa’ (1942)

Selected Shorts: The Disney Christmas Collection—Vintage Winter Cartoon Classics

From the 1930s and 1940s, with a couple of dips into the 1950s, herewith a collection of vintage Walt Disney winter-themed cartoon gems. The guide below features original release dates and key personal information. Good family entertainment for a cold holiday season evening together. Posted at YouTube by ToonTomb.

1. “Toy Tinkers” (December 18, 1949): directed by Jack Hannah and featuring original and adapted music by Paul J. Smith which includes the song “Jingle Bells” and Schubert’s Marche Militaire. The voice cast includes Clarence Nash as Donald and Jimmy MacDonald and Dessie Flynn as Chip and Dale respectively.

2. (at 7:10) “Rescue Dog” (March 21, 1947): directed by Charles A. Nichols, written by Eric Gurney & Bill de la Torre; Pinto Colvig (voice of Pluto)

3. (at 13:33) “Donald’s Snow Fight” (April 10, 1942): directed by Jack King; written by Carl Barks and Harry Reeves; music by Oliver Wallace; voice of Donald Duck by Clarence Nash

4. (at 20:22) “Corn Chips” (March 23, 1951): directed by Jack Hannah; written by Bill Berg and Nick George; Dessie Flynn (voice of Dale); James MacDonald (voice of Chip); Clarence Nash (voice of Donald Duck)

5. (at 26:42) “Bearly Asleep” (August 19, 1955): directed by Jack Hannah; written by Al Bertino and David Detiege; music by Oliver Wallace; James MacDonald (voice of Humphrey the Bear); Clarence Nash (voice of Donald Duck)

6. (at 33:16) “Cold Storage” (February 9, 1951): directed by Jack Kinney; written by Dick Kinney and Milt Schaffer; music by Joseph Dubin; Pinto Colvig (voice of Pluto)

7. (at 39:33) “Hockey Homicide” (September 21, 1945): directed by Jack Kinney; written by Bill Berg and Dick Kinney; cast—Pinto Colvig (voice of Goofy), Doodles Weaver (narrator)

8. (at 46:49) “Dumb Bell Of The Yukon” (August 30, 1944): directed by Jack King; written by Harry Reeves and Homer Brightman; music by Oliver Wallace; Clarence Nash (voice of Donald Duck)

9. (at 53:00) “Polar Trappers” (June 17, 1938): directed by Ben Sharpsteen; music by Paul J. Smith; cast—Pinto Colvig (voice of Goofy), Clarence Nash (voice of Donald Duck)

9. (at 1:00:44) “Squatter’s Rights” (June 7, 1946): directed by Jack Hannah; written by Harry Reeves; music by Oliver Wallace; cast—Dessie Flynn (Dale), James MacDonald (Chip), Pinto Colvig (Pluto) , Walt Disney (Mickey Mouse)

10. (at 1:07:28) “The Hockey Champ” (April 28, 1939): directed by Jack King; written by Carl Barks and Jack Hannah; Clarence Nash (voices of Donald Duck, Huey and Dewey).

11. (at 1:14:40) “Donald’s Penguin” (August 11, 1939): directed by Jack King, written by Carl Barks; Clarence Nash (Donald Duck)

12. (at 1:21:58) “Lend A Paw” (October 3, 1941): Directed by Clyde Geronimo; music by Leigh Harine; cast—Pinto Colvig (voice of Pluto), Walt Disney (voice of Mickey Mouse)

13. (at 1:29:44) Chip An’ Dale (November 28, 1947): directed by Jack Hannah; written by Dick Kinney and Bob North. Music by Oliver Wallace; cast—Dessie Flynn (voice of Dale); James MacDonald (voice of Chip); Clarence Nash (voice of Donald Duck)

14. (at 1:35:59) “Mickey Plays Santa” (December 17, 1942) (aka “Mickey’s Good Deed” and “Mickey’s Lucky Break”). Directed by Burt Gillett; produced by Walt Disney; music by Bert Lewis. Cast—Pinto Colvig (Pluto), Walt Disney (Mickey Mouse).


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