What I find interesting about Fifth Avenue Girl is a similar plot point that seems to have been “borrowed” by the writers of Downton Abbey. The second season of the high-rated British TV drama featured the romance between Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) and Downton chauffeur, Tom Branson (Allen Leech). Branson, is an Irish Republican, very political and interested in among other things, rights for women and freedom for Ireland. He objects to the class hierarchy he sees and experiences at Downton. But he’s drawn to Sybil and encourages her burgeoning independence, especially when it comes to her political views. Branson has socialist tendencies, which play out in the course of the series.
The Chauffer is a socialist!
|“The nocturnal meanderings of the upper class do not interest me!”|
Upstairs and Downstairs
Instead of the chauffeur pursuing the industrialist’s daughter in Fifth Avenue Girl, Katherine (Kathryn Adams) pursues the chauffeur. She doesn’t quite agree or understand all of his political philosophy, but finds him irresistible nonetheless. The rich daughter falling for a servant is hardly a new plot point. But what I found fascinating was the similarities between Mike, the chauffeur in Fifth Avenue Girl and Tom, the chauffeur on Downton.
|“I’m a socialist, not a revolutionary and I won't always be a chauffeur.”|
Mike criticizes Mr. Borden and all he stands for. Tom is a little less harsh, although he thinks Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham and all his class has built their lives on the backs of the poor and less fortunate.
Both characters highlight the inequities in life, one (Mike) in a humorous way, the other (Tom) in a more serious manner.
What do you think, classic movie fans? Did Julian Fellowes see Fifth Avenue Girl? Do you think it may have influenced the story line of Downton Abbey?
Backstory on Fifth Avenue Girl : La Cava directed Ginger Rogers in three consecutive films: Stage Door, Fifth Avenue Girl, and Primrose Path (1940).