5th Avenue Girl (1939)

Ginger Rogers cemented her position as a top comedienne when she followed Bachelor Mother (1939) with this moneymaking trifle, now available in a new print in honor of its 75th anniversary. She stars as an out-of-work girl invited to help a neglected millionaire (Walter Connolly) celebrate his birthday. When their evening out lands in the gossip columns, it reawakens his straying wife’s interest, so he hires Rogers to pretend to be his live-in mistress. In short order her wisecracking practicality has her butting heads with his haughty daughter, playboy son and even the Communism-spouting chauffeur. This was the perfect vehicle to reunite Rogers with director Gregory La Cava, whose Stage Door (1937) had been one of the first films to demonstrate her potential as a solo star. His light touch kept the tale from seeming sordid, despite being about a woman paid to appear fallen. The film’s box-office success paved the way for Rogers’ transition from being Fred Astaire’s dance partner to her position as one of the top stars of the ’40s and Oscar winner.

Dir. Gregory La Cava