Fifth Avenue Girl (1939)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Sep 22, 1939 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 82 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Fifth Avenue Girl starts out high but never catches the fire that its early sparks promise, ending up a watchable but disappointing semi-screwball comedy. Although the premise is far-fetched in that "only Hollywood" way, this is a minor flaw that would be easily forgiven if Girl had reached the heights that it keeps aiming for. Unfortunately, this kind of film has to float, light as a feather, and even the smallest missteps can send it crashing Earthward. With Girl, the screenwriting team doesn't provide enough big laughs, irresistible characters, and the opportunity for charm to keep it aloft. It also suffers from a total and intense lack of chemistry between Ginger Rogers and her supposed love interest, Tim Holt. Holt compounds the problem by turning in a performance that is unrelentingly dull. Rogers is much better, but her decision to play the role in a very low key -- which provides for some comic pay-offs initially -- becomes a bit wearying before the film ends. The normally astute director Gregory La Cava is off his form here, with pacing a problem, as is his inability to make the various strands of the story mesh comfortably. On the plus side, the cinematography is quite nice, and the art direction is impressive, and Walter Connolly's millionaire is all one could ask for. If Veree Teasdale is slightly off as his wife, and if Kathryn Adams is at best adequate as his daughter, the rest of the supporting cast comes through with solid work. Girl is not the top-drawer laugher it should have been by any means, but those looking for an unknown comedy from the era should give it a try.