Wabash Avenue


1h 32m 1950

Brief Synopsis

Andy Clark discovers he was cheated out of a half interest in partner Mike's business, now a thriving dance hall in 1892 Chicago. Unable to win it back, Andy schemes to make Mike's position untenable. He also hopes to turn Ruby Summers, Mike's motor-mouthed burlesque queen, into a classier entertainer, and incidentally to make her his own. But at the last minute, Andy's revenge comes unravelled.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 1950
Premiere Information
World Premiere in Chicago, IL: 31 Mar 1950
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,290ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

In Chicago of the early 1890s, Andy Clark goes to the Loop Café on Wabash Avenue to visit his former partner, Mike Stanley, who currently runs the saloon, and meets old cronies Eddie and Harrigan. A couple of months earlier, Andy and Mike had been partners in a carnival, but Andy lost his share to Mike in what Andy later discovered was a crooked card game. Andy tells Mike that he is going to be his new partner but Mike does not agree. Ruby Summers, an entertainer in the saloon, and Mike's hoped for sweetheart, takes an instant dislike to Andy. Meanwhile, Andy sells a ring to raise a stake for a poker game which he ultimately loses to Mike. In retaliation, the next evening Andy shows up in the company of two young ladies, Cleo and Jennie, with whom he engineers a ruse: As a temperance group pickets the saloons on Wabash Avenue, they hear Cleo complain that she has been thrown out of the Loop Café when she was only trying to stop her husband from losing his pay at the crooked gambling tables, money that she and two starving babies at home desperately need. Andy stirs the picketers to action and they proceed to wreck the saloon. During the mêlée, Mike pushes Harrigan, who falls and hits his head on the bar rail. Andy and Eddie take him next door to a wax museum to recover and there Andy has another idea. They hide Harrigan away on a ship and, after placing a wax dummy in a coffin, claim that Harrigan has died from a concussion caused by Mike's blow. Andy then suggests to Mike that he not reopen the saloon but go into partnership with him to open a high class place that will have Ruby as their featured star. Mike is reluctant but Andy tells him that the police will not find out how Harrigan died if they are partners. A short time later, they open an elegant casino on the midway of the Chicago World's Fair where, much to Ruby's disgust, Andy stages the shows. She complains to Mike, but he explains that Andy is holding Harrigan's "death" over him. Later, because Andy's staging actually improves her numbers, Ruby apologizes to him. Mike tells Andy that he is going to propose to Ruby, but Andy engineers another of his tricks and, while Mike is stuck on a Ferris wheel, Ruby and Andy spend time together and begin to fall in love. Soon theatrical producer Oscar Hammerstein sees Ruby and she learns that he wants her to star in a New York show. Andy and Ruby intend to get married but disaster looms when Harrigan returns drunk. Andy and Eddie hide him once more, this time in the casino's wine cellar. Meanwhile, Mike has gotten drunk at the news of the impending marriage and when he goes down to the cellar for another bottle, he encounters what he thinks is Harrigan's ghost. It soon dawns on Mike that Harrigan is alive, and he knows that Andy has tricked him. While Ruby is packing for New York, she receives a visit from South Illinois Bank representative Horace Carter, who wants to tell Andy that his loan of $20,000 to open a night club has been approved. He reveals that Andy has told him that Ruby will be appearing at the club and the bank has accepted this as security for the loan. When Ruby tells him that she is going to New York, Mr. Carter becomes very worried and leaves, saying he must report to the bank. Andy then arrives and Ruby confronts him with his latest trickery, refusing to believe his protestations of innocence. After she breaks their engagement, Andy goes to see Mike, whom he suspects of setting him up but Mike produces Harrigan and considers the partnership dissolved. Some weeks later, as Ruby debuts in a lavish Broadway show, Andy and Eddie, who are working in a Bowery vaudeville dive, go to her opening night. At the intermission, Mike proposes to Ruby but, just as she says that she is still in love with a cheap, conniving skunk, Andy walks in and he and Mike recall the various tricks they have played on each other. Mike then gallantly reveals that it was he who concocted the loan "gag" and sent the phony bank manager to see Ruby. Andy thanks him but says that he is a bit too late with his confession, and leaves. Later, at Andy's theater, he is surprised by Ruby as she replaces his regular singer during a stage blackout and, thanks to Mike, they are reunited.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 1950
Premiere Information
World Premiere in Chicago, IL: 31 Mar 1950
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,290ft (10 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Song

1950

Quotes

Why, you overgrown, dime-a-dozen wiseacre pig-puss! Who made your clothes? Or did you grow 'em yourself?
- Ruby Summers
How did he get in here? Through what rat hole?
- Ruby Summers
Did you tell him?
- Ruby Summers
Uh huh.
- Andy Clark
How did he take it?
- Ruby Summers
Straight out of the bottle.
- Andy Clark

Trivia

Betty Grable starred in this remake as well as the original, Coney Island (1943).

Notes

Although they are not credited or identified in the film, advertisements for Wabash Avenue confirm that Red Nichols and His Five Pennies accompany "Honey Man" and "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate." The band is seen onscreen during "Honey Man." Several sources erroneously list James Barton's character as "Hogan," however, in the film he is called "Harrigan." "Wilhelmina" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. Other songs heard briefly, or in the background score, include "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree," "Are You from Dixie?" "When You Wore a Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose" and "Ciribiribin." A radio adaptation of Wabash Avenue, starring Grable, Mature and Gerald Mohr, was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on November 13, 1950. Wabash Avenue was a remake of Fox's 1943 film Coney Island.