“Now, you take Michael O’Connor, for example. A poor boy who became the second-richest man in the world…. And is he happy? I should say not. They tell me he’s one of the worst-tempered men in the country.”
- Aloyisius T. McKeever, It Happened on Fifth Avenue
It Happened on 5th Avenue is a film released in 1947 that shows us that money won’t make us happy.
A homeless New Yorker, Aloyisius McKeever, moves into a mansion every winter when the owner, Michael O’Connor, moves south for the season. He happens upon a veteran, Jim Bullock, who’s just been evicted, and invites him to stay there as well.
Soon, the daughter of the man who owns the house, Trudy, who has run away from finishing school, arrives. Aloyisius and Jim think she’s broken in, and she decides to let them believe that instead of telling them the truth about who she is.
Soon, a couple of Jim’s friends and their families, who can’t find living quarters because of their children, join the group.
“For to be without friends is a serious form of poverty.”
Aloyisius T. McKeever, It Happened on Fifth Avenue
Through a series of events I won’t give away, Michael O’Connor arrives, disguised as a panhandler. Aloyisius allows him to stay, but forces him to help out with chores.
Later, Trudy invites her mother, Michael’s ex-wife Mary, and she poses as a drifter, becoming a cook for the group.
“It Happened On Fifth Avenue is usually defined as a Christmas movie, in part because of its plot time-line, but more than that, it’s a movie that … sings of the generosity of the human spirit….”
- Bruce Eder
Although Michael O’Connor is the second richest man in the world, it’s clear he’s an unhappy person who has become estranged from the people he loves. It’s also obvious that he doesn’t want to share any of his wealth.
Aloyisius and Jim, despite being quite poor, are much kinder and more generous than Michael. They’re also a lot happier.
Since this movie is from 1947 and thus guaranteed a happy ending, I don’t think this is a spoiler:
During the time the millionaires live under their assumed identities as homeless persons, they change. Michael tells Mary, watching Aloyisius leave, that there are richer men than he.
This holiday season, let’s take some time to recognize the importance of relationships in our lives. Step away from the stuff and let your loved ones know how much you appreciate them being in your life.