The Five Pennies

  • 1959
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Biography, Musical

All that jazz. A schmaltz-laden biopic, THE FIVE PENNIES is nevertheless a jazz lover's movie, chock full of good old Dixieland tunes. Kaye plays Loring "Red" Nichols, who migrates to New York, where his cornet playing gains him acclaim with the Wil Paradise Band. He meets singer Bobbie Meredith (Bel Geddes, her vocals dubbed by Eileen Wilson); they later...read more

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All that jazz. A schmaltz-laden biopic, THE FIVE PENNIES is nevertheless a jazz lover's movie, chock full of good old Dixieland tunes. Kaye plays Loring "Red" Nichols, who migrates to New York, where his cornet playing gains him acclaim with the Wil Paradise Band. He meets singer Bobbie

Meredith (Bel Geddes, her vocals dubbed by Eileen Wilson); they later marry and have a baby girl. When Red and Paradise (Crosby) disagree over the latter's conservative repertoire, the flaming Red finally gets axed. Coming back with a new group, "The Five Pennies," however, he soon becomes a jazz

legend as a leading purveyor of Dixieland.

Decent enough as entertainment, THE FIVE PENNIES doesn't always manage to avoid slipping on its own soap. The film unfortunately gets a mite laughable as it equates, in true repressed 1950s fashion, Red's inability to hit a high note on his horn with sexual impotence. (See Kirk Douglas in YOUNG

MAN WITH A HORN for another example of this phenomenon.) Otherwise, Kaye, as aggressively eager to please as ever, is pretty believable as the ambitious jazzman who rolls with some tough punches. Bel Geddes brings warmth if not excitement to her role as his loyal wife, and 15 year-old Weld, in her

film debut as Red's daughter, gives evidence of her future success. Jazz fans will be most delighted, however, by the duet by Nichols (who actually plays Kaye's solos) and Louis Armstrong; other jazzmen in the film include Ray Anthony, Bobby Troup, Shelly Manne and Ray Daley.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: All that jazz. A schmaltz-laden biopic, THE FIVE PENNIES is nevertheless a jazz lover's movie, chock full of good old Dixieland tunes. Kaye plays Loring "Red" Nichols, who migrates to New York, where his cornet playing gains him acclaim with the Wil Paradi… (more)

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