5th Ave Girl

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5th Avenue Girl
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gregory La Cava
Produced by Gregory La Cava
Written by Allan Scott
Gregory La Cava (uncredited)
Morrie Ryskind (uncredited story outline)
Starring Ginger Rogers
Walter Connolly
Music by Robert Russell Bennett
Cinematography Robert De Grasse
Edited by Robert Wise
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • September 22, 1939 (1939-09-22)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $607,000[1]
Box office $1,370,000[1]

5th Ave Girl is a 1939 comedy film about a millionaire who feels neglected by his family, so he hires a young woman to stir things up. It stars Ginger Rogers and Walter Connolly.


Wealthy industrialist Alfred Borden (Walter Connolly) has problems both at work and at home. His employees at Amalgamated Pump are making demands that may drive the business he has built up from nothing into bankruptcy, and his son Tim (Tim Holt) has lost a major customer through neglect (he prefers playing polo). On his birthday, Borden's secretary gives him a loud tie as a gift, but when he goes home to his Fifth Avenue mansion, he finds nobody there but the servants. His unfaithful wife Martha (Verree Teasdale), his daughter Katherine (Kathryn Adams), and Tim have all forgotten or do not care.

Feeling lonely, he goes to Central Park, where he meets Mary Grey (Ginger Rogers), a young, out-of-work woman. Seeing that she has only a meager meal to last the day, he invites her to dine with him at a fancy nightclub. They get drunk, start dancing, and are spotted by Martha and her boyfriend. The next morning, he awakes with a hangover and a black eye, to discover that he had apparently invited Mary to spend the night in a guest room.

Seeing the reaction this elicits from his formerly indifferent family, he concocts a scheme: he hires Mary to pretend to be his mistress. He neglects his company, forcing his son to take up the slack. Tim comes up with fresh new ideas to save the firm. Meanwhile, Borden and Mary go out every night, supposedly partying to all hours, though they are actually just driven around by the ardently communist chauffeur Mike (James Ellison). Embarrassed by the resulting newspaper gossip column items and shunned by her friends, Martha calls in family psychiatrist Dr. Kessler (Louis Calhern), but he finds nothing wrong with her now-cheerful and carefree husband. She starts staying home, plotting ways to drive Mary out. She has Tim try to buy her off, but that fails. Tim makes no effort to hide his contempt for the interloper, but eventually falls in love with her. Meanwhile, Mary tries to help Katherine, who is in love with an unnoticing Mike.

Finally, Mary can no longer continue with the charade and tearfully confesses the truth. Katharine shows up and announces she has married Mike, who has decided to quit and open a repair shop. At first, Martha is aghast, but then Borden reminds her that they started their own marriage about the same way, and she grudgingly accepts her new son-in-law. Borden then retreats to his bedroom, but Martha invites him into hers. Mary leaves, but Tim finds her, picks her up, and carries her back into the mansion. When a policeman tries to interfere, Mary tells him to mind his own business.



Filming started May 1939.[2]

As reported in Sheilah Graham's syndicated column of July 27, 1939, the film in previews had a different ending: "The audience did not like the unhappy ending in 'Fifth Avenue Girl," starring Ginger Rogers, and a new one will be 'shot' when Ginger gets back from Honolulu." One can only surmise that the original film showed Ginger Rogers's character leaving for Honolulu. At any rate, the final ending opted to have her go back into the house immediately rather than "return from Honolulu" as Graham mentioned.


Frank Nugent, critic for The New York Times, described the film as "cheerful and cheerfully unimportant. It may not be a strikingly good comedy, but then it isn't militantly bad either".[3]

The film was a hit and earned a profit of $314,000.[1] However Holt made few comedies for the rest of his career.[4]

Radio adaptation[edit]

5th Ave Girl was presented on Hollywood Players January 1, 1947. Paulette Goddard played Mary Gray in the adaptation.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p55
  2. ^ Douglas W. Churchill (May 16, 1939). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Robert Morley to Sign With RKO Studio for Lead in 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' FOUR NEW FILMS LISTED 'Sorority House,' 'Wonderful World,' 'Kid From Kokomo,' 'Blind Alley' to Be Seen Arthur Shields to Appear Of Local Origin". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Frank Nugent (August 25, 1939). "THE SCREEN; Slight Light Comedy Is RKO's Fifth Avenue Girl,' With Ginger Rogers, at the Radio City Music Hall". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p. 134
  5. ^ "Goddard Star of Hollywood Players". Harrisburg Telegraph. December 28, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]