Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

5th Ave Girl (1939)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

5th Ave Girl (1939) (aka Fifth Avenue Girl)

In Gregory La Cava's and RKO's witty, fast-paced, satirical Depression-Era screwball romantic comedy about the foibles of the idle rich and class warfare (and a reversed Cinderella tale), similar to the plot-line of his earlier film My Man Godfrey (1936), and also two other films: screenwriter Preston Sturges' Easy Living (1937) with Jean Arthur, and Midnight (1939) with Claudette Colbert:

  • the premise: rich, patriarchal capitalist-tycoon Mr. Alfred Borden, Sr. (Walter Connolly), the owner of Amalgamated Pump, learned (on his birthday) that his company was on the verge of bankruptcy; and then his secretary (Josephine Whittell) offered him a present - a very loud tie with a design that brought the quip: "Well, that's one bright spot in a gloomy day"
  • Borden returned to his unwelcoming, empty Fifth Avenue mansion where he found that his vain and cheating wife Martha (Verree Teasdale) was out with a gigolo, and his spoiled polo-playing son Tim (Tim Holt), and his lovesick daughter Katherine (Kathryn Adams) with the Bolshevik-leaning, slogan-spouting chauffeur Mike (James Ellison) were away and had forgotten his birthday; he took a walk to Central Park - feeling lonely, unhappy, depressed, unwanted, and neglected, where his life would soon change
  • the crucial pick-up scene beginning with Borden's chance encounter and conversation on a public park bench with cynical, level-headed, spunky and sassy Mary Grey (Ginger Rogers); she revealed that the apple she was eating was her dinner; when he asked if she was on a diet, she replied: "Yes, but against my wishes"; with a few more questions, he realized that she was poor, homeless, unemployed and hungry, and was willing to sleep in the park if she had to; when he was astonished that she didn't seem to be worried, she told him that the rich were all alike: "You sound like one of those Fifth Avenue cadavers.... Those people that live over there... oh they're always squawking. You'd think the country was going to the dogs....I used to stand at the Plaza at night and watch 'em go home. They look like a lot of wax dummies that have eaten an overdose of sour pickles"
  • his invitation to dine with him in the fancy Flamingo Club to celebrate his birthday; at first, she declined: "I'd just as soon go to the automat and keep the change"; but when he urged: "We could have lots of fun insulting the rich," she agreed, although she quipped: "If I eat any real food, I'll probably die. I just as soon die of food poisoning as anything else"; while they were dancing together, Borden happened to be spotted by his unfaithful wife Martha dining out with her playboy admirer
  • the next morning in his mansion, Borden awakened with a hangover, a right black eye, gossip in the newspaper about the "disgraceful episode" (according to his wife who had seen him) and Mary's appearance after sleeping in the upstairs guest room (apparently invited for the night); during a wild night that he couldn't remember, Borden allegedly had an altercation with both a taxi-cab driver and a policeman; butler Higgins (Franklin Pangborn) reminded him: "It was nice to see you happy for a change"
  • Borden realized: "This was the first time in years that my wife has paid any attention to me, and I think you had something to do with it"; he decided to hire Mary (without his family's knowledge) to pose in a fake affair as his gold-digging mistress (she was considered a "little blonde hussy"), something that eventually had positive results and brought his insensitive and dysfunctional family together; almost every night, Borden's chauffeur would drive them around as a pretense (and Borden would often fall asleep)
Mary With Borden's Son Tim
Mary About to Kiss
Tim On Park Bench
Mary's Revealing
Confession of Her Charade to Borden and Family: "I didn't ask you for this job. You forced it on me"
To Tim: "I'm going back where I belong"
Mary Carried Back into House Over Tim's Shoulder
  • eventually, Mary was paired with son Tim, soon after they visited the same park bench that she had earlier shared with his father and he forced a kiss on her; at first, he was very belligerent toward her but then fell in love with her
  • the scene of Mary's teary confessional revelation at the end to Borden and the family that everything was a charade: "I didn't ask you for this job. You forced it on me" before she departed
  • the concluding exit of Mary from the house, followed by Tim, when she made a determined statement to him ("I'm going back where I belong!"), only to be carried back in by Tim slung over his shoulder as she yelled at a policeman who asked: "Hey, what's going on here? - she delivered a smart retort to end the film: "Why don't you mind your own business?"

Secretary's Gift of Loud Tie to Alfred Borden

Borden's Chance Encounter with Mary Grey on Central Park Bench

Mary and Borden Dancing at the Flamingo Club

The Next Morning After a "Disgraceful Episode"

Disrupted Borden Family: Tim, Martha, and Katherine

Nightly Dates With Mary - Chauffeured Drives Around Town

Borden's Upset and Jealous Wife Martha


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