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 first calls 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, he 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 in 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.Ginger Rogers as Mary Grey
Walter Connolly as Alfred Borden
Verree Teasdale as Martha Borden
James Ellison as Mike
Tim Holt as Tim Borden
Kathryn Adams as Katherine Borden
Franklin Pangborn as Higgins, the butler
Ferike Boros as Olga, another servant
Louis Calhern as Dr. Kessler
Theodore von Eltz as Terwilliger (as Theodor Von Eltz)
Alexander D'Arcy as Maitre D'
Bess Flowers as Woman with Mr. Pape (uncredited)
Filming started May 1939.
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."
The film was a hit and earned a profit of $314,000. However Holt made few comedies for the rest of his career.
5th Ave Girl was presented on Hollywood Players January 1, 1947. Paulette Goddard played Mary Gray in the adaptation.