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5th Avenue Girl

(1939 b 83')

En: 6 Ed: 6

A lonely businessman hires a homeless girl as a gold-digger to wake up his family to their responsibilities.

Timothy Borden (Walter Connolly) is told that his business has labor problems and faces bankruptcy. On his birthday Borden learns from his butler Higgins (Franklin Pangborn) that he is left alone. In a park Borden meets unemployed Mary Grey (Ginger Rogers) and invites her to dine, letting her hold the money. They use $10 to get a table. Borden buys people champagne for his birthday. The next morning Mrs. Martha Borden (Verree Teasdale) is angry at Borden, who has a black eye. Ginger comes downstairs and has breakfast. Katherine Borden (Kathryn Adams) and her friends come in. In the kitchen chauffeur Michael (James Ellison) complains about capitalism. Son Tim Borden (Tim Holt) offers Mary $50 to leave, but Borden has invited her to move in. Martha consults with lawyer Terwilliger (Theodore von Eltz) and psychiatrist Hugo Kessler (Louis Calhern) about her husband and Mary. On the roof Borden and Mary fly pigeons, and Kessler tells Martha that Borden is normal. Mary gives Borden's report on his pump business to Tim, who calls her a gold-digger. Borden suggests that Tim run his business.

Tim comes back from the office and argues with Katherine and his mother, who tells Tim to take Mary from Borden. Martha arranges dinner, but Borden goes out with Mary. They talk as Michael drives. Katherine tells Mary that Michael does not respond. Taking her advice, Katherine tells Michael she wants the car to go to work; but he is angry she is taking a job needed by others. Terwilliger tells Borden that Tim has good ideas on extending credit to farmers. Borden urges Mary to go out with Tim, and they walk in the park. Tim is irritated by a sailor (Jack Carson) singing to his girl. Tim kisses Mary, and they go home in silence. Katherine blames Mary because Michael got angry at her.

In the kitchen Michael talks socialism, but Mary criticizes and slaps him. She grabs a knife, and Michael protects Katherine. Martha tells Mary that she wants to be friends, and Mary implies she no longer likes Borden. Mary packs and sits on the doorstep with Michael. Martha makes beef stew for Borden, and they eat in the kitchen, getting reacquainted with old memories. Mary and Tim argue, but he kisses her. Katherine and Michael tells Martha and Borden that they are married and are going away. Mary and Tim come in, and Katherine thanks Mary. Borden blames Mary and asks her to leave. Mary cries, and Tim realizes she was working for Borden. Martha calls Borden a fake, and he goes into her bedroom. Tim catches Mary and carries her back into the house.

The under-rating of this comedy by critics reflects antagonism toward socialist ideas and challenges to the wealthy and a materialistic life-style.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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