Friday, December 11, 2009

Hidden Gems

Ever stumble across a movie while flipping channels that you'd never heard of, ended up watching it, and was thoroughly delighted, wondering how this little gem escaped your attention?

That happened to Husband and me last night, as we flipped to TCM and watched the movie already playing, even though it was 30 minutes into it, because there was nothing else on to watch.

It Happened on 5th Avenue, released in 1947, was a comedy ensemble piece starring Victor Moor, Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charles Ruggles, and Gale Storm that takes place in New York City in winter.  Victor Moore is a "hobo" named McKeever that, along with dog Sam, has come up with a keen way to live in style:  he cunningly finds ways into rich mansions that are vacant as the owners go elsewhere for the winter, and leaves again before they return, being careful to leave everything as he found it.

This time he has made his winter residence at the luxurious mansion of the O'Connor family.  The O'Connor daughter, Trudy (Gale Storm), however, has run away from finishing school and decides to hide from her family in their vacant NYC home, not knowing that McKeever is squatting there.  Upon running into him inside her home, instead of turning him in to the police, they become fast friends and she pretends to be a squatter also.  The two end up opening the home to others in need of a place to sleep; the group forms a happy little family of sorts.  Trudy falls in love with one of these, a veteran G.I. named Jim (Don DeFore) and tries to get him to fall in love with her, too.   (Another one of these drifters is a young Alan Hale, Jr., better known as "the Skipper" on Gilligan's Island.)

When Trudy's father, the powerful wealthy business magnate Mr. O'Connor (Charles Ruggles), comes to NYC to look for his daughter, she convinces him to help her win Jim over by pretending to also be a hobo who has come to the home in need of a place to stay; Trudy wants Jim to fall for her for real, not just for her father's money, so she wants their true identity concealed for as long as possible. 

Well, Mr. O'Connor can only take so much of pretending to be a hobo in his own home and being made to wash dishes and be dog Sam's "valet", let alone being given orders and lessons in morality by McKeever (who has taken on the role of sage leader) so he quietly tries to thwart their efforts.  Trudy catches on and enlists her mother's (Ann Harding) help, who flies in from Palm Beach and adds to the ruse by becoming their "cook." 

In the end it all comes to a happy close with the O'Connor's true identity being revealed and the lot of them learning some good life lessons along the way:  that money doesn't buy happiness, and no man is truly rich without family and friends and love and laughter:  two themes that have appeared in movies repeatedly but never get old because of their truth (and our seemingly inability to remember it).

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie, and wish I'd gotten in at the beginning of it in time to record it.  But, now I have another movie on my list of ones to watch for as they cycle around again and will catch it next time!

In looking up information online about this movie, we were interested to learn that it had originally been optioned for director Frank Capra to do, but for reasons unknown he declined it and chose another project instead:  It's A Wonderful Life.  I wonder if he'd gone ahead and chosen this movie, if it would have become the beloved Christmas classic in place of "IAWL."

So that was my hidden gem of the week....what movies have you accidentally discovered that became a favorite?


  1. Oooh I love it when that happens!

    I still remember a few years back when I was channel hopping and stumbles upon Barefoot in the Park. I'd never heard of it and I'd missed the first 20-30 mins, but I was totally engrossed.

    You know, some day I really need to see the start of that movie!

  2. Ahhh looks like a good one!!! I love old movies, but have a hard time figuring out which ones I really need to watch on TCM. My favorite is during the summer when they do the marathons of certain actors. And my favorite actor in the entire world is Gene Kelly. sighhhhh

  3. Isn't it great when that happens? I'll have to add this film to my growing list of films to watch :)

    One film that i recently discovered and loved is The Sorcerers with Boris Karloff. It's a film about mind control and it was made in the 60s. It's a bit of a silly movie but still quite creepy!


  4. Richard: That's one movie I've never seen, but I have seen the play. Funny, I can only remember the beginning and not the end!

    carissajaded: Oooh, I LOVE Gene Kelly! He could do no wrong in my eyes. :) If you go to the TCM website, you can see their programming schedule for several months in advance (and they give a brief synopsis of each movie), that might help you plan ahead. They do a "director of the month" as well as an "actor of the month" where all month they will feature various movies of each. December is Frank Capra (for director) and Humphrey Bogart (for actor) month.

    Stefanie: Sounds like something fun to watch - I'm a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy nerd sometimes. :)

  5. I missed that one too. I do love old movies, and I watch TCM all the time. My favorite is The Glass Bottom Boat, which I haven't seen in years and keep hoping they'll play when I'm there to watch it. So far, nada . . .

  6. Hey Gingerella!!!
    Guess what...the same thing happened to me! I had read a bit about this movie, and figured, heck, I would give it a try...and really thought it was great!
    Weird how movies like this one are 'looked over'. Rob Osbourne said in the intro that this is the first time it has been shown on TCM.
    Actually, this one is being offered as one of the four in the new TCM 'Box Set' - where they have four movies in one package...the set is a pretty good one overall, which includes the 1938 edition of "Christmas Carol", "The Shop Around the Corner", "Christmas in Connecticut", and "It Happened on Fifth Avenue". Check the link below if interested: Sets:Greatest Classic Films

  7. Seeing "Skipper" young, handsome, and skinny was bizarre.

  8. Fragrant Liar: check out TCM's website to see their programming guide, it's helped me to not miss movies I wanted to see.

    jwalker: cool, you were watching too! I'd never heard of Gale Storm before, she was absolutely beautiful (though not as much as Ginger, of course)! Amazingly enough, I saw that same 4-pack last night when we were at Hastings, but our arms were already laden with purchases so it'll have to wait. I'll check to see if its still there next week when I get paid again. ;)

    Husband: yes, it was! But you called it dead on, I wouldn't have recognized him at all.

  9. Wonderful post! I'll definitely look for this movie. The theme initially reminded me of The Riches....that show (cancelled...sigh) on FX with Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver. I LOVED that show.

    Favorite hidden gem movie: One Hit Wonders...starring Tom Hanks.

    Loved it.

  10. I have an award for you over on my blog hun :) xx

  11. Wow sounds like a good movie. I love the pictures on your blog!

  12. There's an award for you over at my blog! xoxo

  13. How funny you mentioned this now because this happened to me recently too! It was TCM and it was a Rosalind Russell movie (she's one of my favorites!)...what was it called?...Oh shoot! lol Oh yes! "She Wouldn't Say Yes" Very cute and I missed a good 20 minutes of it! lol

  14. How fun to discover a new old movie! I found the original "Mr and Mrs Smith" (with Carole Lombard) by just being on TCM at the right time! This movie sounds like so much fun too.

  15. Kathryn: It seems like there's more new shows popping up that are being canceled shortly after they start, it's like they don't even give them a chance to find their niche audience. I've never heard of that one with Tom Hanks, will have to look for it!

    Stefanie: You're too sweet hon, thanks!

    Christiejolu: Thanks! I need to do some updating though, looks like one I stole from Photobucket has gone by the wayside...

    Pink Champagne: Another! Thank you for enjoying my totally pointless rambles, lol!

    Maggi: We saw a documentary on Rosalind Russell's life a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it; the only movies I've seen with her are His Girl Friday and Mame. I'll have to keep an eye out for others she did.

    Emma: I didn't know Mr and Mrs Smith was a remake (the modern one that is) let alone that the original starred Ms. Lombard! Cool! I love learning new things about movie stuff. :)

  16. I too have had that happen and absolutely adore it! The experience is best when it comes about spontaneously, as in you don't set out to find a classic movie, instead, amidst channel surfing, you chance upon a classic film and find yourself drawn in. I've discovered some real gems via this route and always enjoy when it happens.

    Thank you very much for your wonderful comments, my sweet friend, I really hope your week is off to a terrific start!
    ♥ Jessica

  17. Thank you for the review. I just had to watch this and found it on Youtube! Cute movie.


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