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Penny Serenade

Penny Serenade

4.0 5
Director: George Stevens, Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Beulah Bondi

Cast: George Stevens, Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Beulah Bondi


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While listening to a recording of "Penny Serenade," Julie Gardiner Adams (Irene Dunne) begins reflecting on her past. She recalls her near-impulsive marriage to newspaper reporter Roger Adams (Cary Grant), which begins on a deliriously happy note but turns out to be fraught with tragedy. While honeymooning in Japan, Julie and Roger are trapped in the 1923 earthquake,


While listening to a recording of "Penny Serenade," Julie Gardiner Adams (Irene Dunne) begins reflecting on her past. She recalls her near-impulsive marriage to newspaper reporter Roger Adams (Cary Grant), which begins on a deliriously happy note but turns out to be fraught with tragedy. While honeymooning in Japan, Julie and Roger are trapped in the 1923 earthquake, which results in her miscarriage and subsequent incapability to bear children. Upon their return to America, Roger becomes editor of a small-town newspaper, just scraping by financially. Despite their depleted resources, Julie and Roger want desperately to adopt a child. It seems hopeless until kindly adoption agency head Miss Oliver (Beulah Bondi) helps smooth their path. Alas, their happiness is once more short-lived: their new daughter, Trina (Eva Lee Kuney), succumbs to a sudden illness at the age of six. Reduced to hopelessness, Julie and Roger decide to dissolve their marriage, but Miss Oliver once more comes to the rescue. Sentimental in the extreme, Penny Serenade is also enormously effective, balancing moments of heartbreaking pathos with uproarious laughter. Only director George Stevens could have handled a scene with a copiously weeping Cary Grant without inducing discomfort or embarrassment in the audience. Since lapsing into the public domain in 1968 (though released by Columbia, the film was owned by Stevens' production firm), Penny Serenade has become almost as ubiquitous a cable-TV presence as It's a Wonderful Life.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The third pairing of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, Penny Serenade differs from their earlier films by being a tragic melodrama rather than a lighthearted comedy. Indeed, sometimes the soap operatics are laid on so heavily that bathos threatens to overwhelm the pathos, and with a lesser pair of stars or director, this would surely have come about. Fortunately, George Stevens shows a sure hand in knowing how far he can let the emotions be manipulated before it becomes ludicrous, and while he directs the scenes for all the emotional turmoil they're worth, he doesn't let them get out of hand. Of course, with Grant and Dunne on board, Stevens' work was made considerably easier. Both stars play with the perfect mixture of charm, class, and effortlessness, and both are willing to put themselves on the line emotionally. Grant's bravura courtroom scene is justifiably famous and a stellar example of the kind of beautifully judged work that the actor was capable of. And, though she lacks this kind of set piece, Dunne is a perfect match for Grant, turning in work that is a bit quieter but every bit as fully realized. Serenade's screenplay may be the stuff of the standard tearjerker, but its stars not only rise but fly above the material.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Olive Films
Region Code:
Sales rank:

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Irene Dunne Julie Gardiner Adams
Cary Grant Roger Adams
Beulah Bondi Miss Oliver
Edgar Buchanan Applejack
Ann Doran Dotty
Eva Lee Kuney Trina, age 6
Leonard Willey Dr. Hartley
Wallis Clark Judge
Walter Soderling Billings
Al Seymour Bootlegger
Adrian Morris Bill Collector
Edward Peil Train Conductor
Rollin Moriyama Actor
Frank Moran Cab Driver
Dick Wessel Joe
Lillian West Nurse
Grady Sutton Actor
Ben Taggart Policeman
John Tyrrell Press Operator
Fred "Snowflake" Toones Train Porter
Stanley Brown Man
Baby Biffle Trina, age 1
Edmund Elton Minister
John Ferguson Father
Lynton Brent Reporter
Mary Bovard Actor
Jack Buchanan Actor
Eddie Laughton Cab Driver
Georgia Hawkins Girl
Dorothy Adams Mother
Bess Flowers Mother
Charles Flynn Bob
Otto Han Sam the Cook
Billy Bevan McDougal

Technical Credits
George Stevens Director,Producer
Lionel Banks Art Director
Martha Cheavens Original Story
Fred Guiol Associate Producer
W. Franke Harling Score Composer
Otto Meyer Editor
Morris Ryskind Screenwriter
Morris W. Stoloff Musical Direction/Supervision
Joseph Walker Cinematographer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Penny Serenade
1. Scene 1 [:00]
1. Scene 1 [11:56]
2. Scene 2 [15:31]
3. Scene 3 [12:00]
4. Scene 4 [20:12]
5. Scene 5 [11:04]
6. Scene 6 [21:36]
7. Scene 7 [11:46]
8. Scene 8 [15:51]


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Penny Serenade 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is an enjoyable classic. One of the best romantic movies of all time! Cary Grant is masterful in his portrayal of a husband and father. Irene Dunne is also spectacular in her role as the love interest of Cary Grant. I've never seen as moving a scene as when he goes before the judge pleading to keep their adopted little girl after he's lost his job. This movie is not for the faint of heart. More than once will your eyes well with water. The special effects are good for 1941 especially in the earthquake scene while they are living in Tokyo. I never can understand why people like "an affair to remember" so much. This movie is so much better. It's not even in the same league. Definately "Penny Serenade" is one of Cary Grant's best films!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful movie that should be seen by all. It entails the wonderful part of a marriage and the ups and downs that come with it. But in the end, it makes us realize the importance of a loved one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While Cary Grant excelled in comedic roles (I love a handsome guy that can be funny and make you laugh), I think this role proved what an accomplished all-around actor he is. When an actor does a scene and can make you BELIEVE like he does when he pleads for his little girl, and can make you cry for his grief, that's a GOOD ACTOR PAR EXCELLENCE. I think the only other actors (two in particular) who could do that were Jimmy Stewart (for instance in "Shenandoah") and Tony Perkins (see his role as Jimmy Pearsall--great mad breakdown scene and "Desire Under the Elms").
kckorners More than 1 year ago
I purchased this digitally remastered version of Penny Serenade. Although the picture quality of this one was very good(same cover, but mine states it was released by Platinum, 2003), the movie is most definitely cut. Penny Serenade on this DVD did not contain the portion where Cary Grant masterfully pleads to the judge to adopt the child, despite his lack of employment. Grant was nominated for an academy award for that particular performance, which was included in this version. For that very important reason, I reject this one, good picture quality or not.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cary Grant is one of my favorite actors and I also like Irene Dunne. I really liked their screwball romantic comedies, My Favorite Wife and The Awful Truth but I didn't like their movie Penny Seranade as much. It is a good movie but too melodramatic for my taste. The movie is about a childless couple and their attempts to adopt and it is also about their marriage problems. It's a decent movie, but I guess I'm just not that into weepy soap operish melodramas. This is not a Cary Grant movie I could watch again and again.