“Tenth Avenue Angel” is a sweet holiday story starring Margaret O’Brien, one of the top child stars of the 1940s. In this movie, O’Brien tugs at the heartstrings as usual playing Flavia, the eight-year-old daughter of Helen (Phyllis Thaxter) and Joe (Warner Anderson). They live in a poor neighborhood in Depression-era New York City with Flavia’s Aunt Susan (Angela Lansbury). Joe has been searching for a job, while Susan’s boyfriend Steve (George Murphy) returns home after being away for a year in jail.
“Tenth Avenue Angel” is, above all, a story about growing up. Flavia initially believes her home life is perfect; in her imaginary world, Steve—who she doesn’t know went to jail—has come home to marry Susan. As the film progresses, she realizes that things aren’t as nice as they seem. Fortunately, though, this is a movie, and despite some tear-jerker moments that are typical of any drama, everything works out okay in the end.
O’Brien is just as fine an actress here as ever, as she effortless manipulates the viewer’s emotions throughout the film. This movie was filmed in 1946, but wasn’t released until 1948, toward the end of O’Brien’s popularity as a child star. The film was a box office failure, and wasn’t even reviewed by many critics upon its release. It’s a lovely little movie, however, and luckily repeated television airings have made it a holiday must-see among classic film fans.
“Tenth Avenue Angel” is available to rent or buy on all digital platforms, and is airing on Turner Classic Movies on December 24th at 6:45 AM EST. Runtime: 74 minutes.