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The Five Pennies (18-Jun-1959)

Director: Melville Shavelson

Writers: Jack Rose; Melville Shavelson; Robert Smith

Keywords: Drama, Jazz, Biography

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Ray Anthony
20-Jan-1922   Young Man With a Horn
Louis Armstrong
Jazz Musician
4-Aug-1901 6-Jul-1971 Jazz trumpeter
Barbara Bel Geddes
31-Oct-1922 8-Aug-2005 Miss Ellie on Dallas
Bob Crosby
25-Aug-1913 9-Mar-1993 The Bob Crosby Orchestra
Susan Gordon
27-Jul-1949 11-Dec-2011 The Five Pennies
Harry Guardino
23-Dec-1925 17-Jul-1995 Houseboat
Danny Kaye
18-Jan-1913 3-Mar-1987 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Shelly Manne
11-Jun-1920 26-Sep-1984 West Coast jazz drummer
Bobby Troup
18-Oct-1918 7-Feb-1999 (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66
Tuesday Weld
27-Aug-1943   Looking for Mr. Goodbar


Review by Dan R. VanLandingham (posted on 24-Oct-2007)

In the late 1920s,cornetist Ernest Loring "Red" Nichols led one of the most successful studio bands that also performed publically between 1928 and 1932. In 1959,Danny Kaye was tapped to play the lead role of Nichols.Barbar Bel Geddes was tapped to play his wife Bobbie;Tuesday Weld,Nichols' only child Dorothy and Louis Armstrong was again cast in a "guest star" role as he did in the 1953 film "The Glenn Miller Story" which wasn't any different than his role in the 1948 film "A Song is Born" which also starred Kaye. This movie was sentimental slop tailor made to Kaye:it featured Kaye's now famous patter inspired no doubt by his roles in "Hans Christian Andersen" and "The Inspector".Nichols' own career is given the characteristic glossing over by Hollywood where his career was concerned.Nichols' career as a cornetist/bandleader in the Bix Beiderbecke style were important in the early 1930s but Kaye does the singing to the point being ridiculous. It's Dorothy Nichols' bout with polio that gets some mileage in the film.Dorothy contracts the disease while Nichols is out on the road and it's Nichols who quits the music business,builds some kind of contraption that helps Dorothy overcome her bout with polio.While all of this is going on,he works in a factory in Southern California.It's about this time he comes home to one of Dorothy's parties where she is playing the newest big band hits of the day on her phonograph.He tells her friends that he had once employed the men they were listening to.He gets out his cornet;he plays;he's very rusty. One evening,Dorothy catches him in self pity and reminds him of a character he(allegedly)created years before in her childhood:"Meyer the Crier".She leaves him with "Goodnight Mey- er." Nichols is on his way back as leader of his "Five Pennies" and the movie ends well with Kaye and Barbara Bel Geddes singing a tune obviously written for the film,"This Little Penny".After this movie ends,I can now go back to my favourite bottle of scotch,listen to the real deal by way of my recordings from the '20s on Brunswick Records and forget this movie ever crossed my highly insulted psyche.

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