5th Avenue Girl (aka Fifth Avenue Girl) (1939): Gregory La Cava’s Comedy, Starring Ginger Rogers

Gregory La Cava directed 5th Ave Girl, starring Walter Connolly as a neglected millionaire, who hires a young woman, played by Ginger Rogers, in order to stir things up.

Wealthy industrialist Alfred Borden has problems 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 has lost a major customer through neglect.

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, his daughter Katherine, and Tim have forgotten.

Feeling lonely, he goes to Central Park, where he meets Mary Grey, a young, unemployed woman.  He invites her to dine at a fancy club, and they get drunk. The next morning, he awakes with a hangover and black eye.

Seeing the reaction of his formerly indifferent family, he concocts a scheme, in which Mary pretends to be his mistress.  Borden and Mary go out every night, supposedly partying, though they are actually just driven around by the communist chauffeur Mike.

Embarrassed by the resulting newspaper gossip column items and shunned by her friends, Martha calls in psychiatrist Dr. Kessler, but he finds nothing wrong with her now-cheerful husband. She starts staying home, plotting ways to drive Mary out.

Mary can no longer continue with the charade and tearfully confesses the truth and leaves. As Borden retreats to his bedroom, Martha invites him into hers. Meanwhile Tim chases after Mary and carries her back into the mansion.

The original ending was changed after preview showings when audience did not like the unhappy conclusion.


Produced and directed by Gregory La Cava
Written by Allan Scott; La Cava (uncredited); Morrie Ryskind (uncredited)
Music: Robert Russell Bennett
Cinematography: Robert De Grasse
Edited by Robert Wise
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date: September 22, 1939
Running time: 83 minutes

Budget: $607,000
Box office: $1,370,000

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. Hugo Kessler
Theodore von Eltz as Terwilliger
Alexander D’Arcy as Maitre D’


TCM showed movie on March 13, 2020.