Penny Serenade (1941) Poster

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Great watch on a rainy day
Paculliton13 July 2003
I just love this sweet old movie. Cary Grant is gorgeous, Irene Dunne beautiful, Edgar Buchanan a lovable old codger. A story about falling in love and the deep inner desire to build a family with the one you love -- and the challenges and sadness that can be as great, but never really greater, than the happiness and fulfillment it brings.

Falling in love, best friends, career challenges, pregnancy, miscarriage, infertility, adoption, death, divorce... it's all covered in this one sweet little movie. And it's all told in a way that reminds us all how important music is as it sets the soundtrack to our lives.

This is a wonderful movie. It may not be Citizen Kane -- but it is definitely worthy of your time.
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Unusual, but sad story
misslv8021 January 2004
Cary Grant plays a newspaper reporter who falls in love and marries Irene Dunne, whom he meets at a record store. While abroad in Japan, tragedy strikes for the couple, which sets the course for the story. It really is a simple story about how a married couple long for having a home and a family of their own. Grant surprised me with his family man role, quite different from the sophisticated characters he played later on in his career. His monologue during the adoption hearing was one of the best scenes in the whole movie and very well done. Irene Dunne was great in her role as his wife. The little girl who plays their daughter was too cute for words. It was also an interesting insight into how a couple struggles to raise their first child, which is something many people can relate to, no matter what the time period. It was also interesting the way Dunne went through all the flashback scenes in the movie by playing records that reminded her of their life together. Beulah Bondi (who played George Bailey's mother from It's A Wonderful Life) has a great supporting role as the head of the adoption agency who has doubts about the couple at first, but then grows to care a great deal for them. The ending was a complete surprise. If you like Cary Grant or old Hollywood movies, this is something different. Sad, but sentimental. Recommended.
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Classy Dunne and Grant movie
SoftKitten808 December 2004
Irene Dunne is a class act all the way. A real lady, and it comes out in this film. While she and Grant always look like movie stars in the film, you can't stop noticing that they look like movie stars, they do their job and do it to perfection. Only two A-level actors could carry this tear jerker off well. The adoption lady was also realistic and convincing. The little girl or baby, whichever children played them, were the cutest and sweetest I've ever seen in film. Irene Dunne cannot hit a false note, ever, it seems. She looks marvelous in everything she wears, be it a simple housedress or pajamas. Same with Cary Grant, he wears the clothes. The penny serenade theme and the way the camera plays with the records is really magic. This film is a gift to the audience. Grant and Dunne show their adeptness at establishing and making us believe they are an intimate married couple. Irene Dunne is at the height of sensitivity and softness here, a true lady with beautiful hair and hairstyles. What a movie. And one cannot forget our beloved Apple Jack, such a sweet soul.
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A truly sweet and sentimental film.
makain24 November 2004
I wasn't much of a Cary Grant fan until I saw this film for the first time about 10 years ago, and I also discovered the embodiment of grace and charm that is Irene Dunne as well. Cary Grant is at his most charming and gives a very amusing and, at times, very very touching performance as a new dad. When he gives his heart-rending speech to the child custody judge and begs to keep his adopted baby girl, it brings a lump to my throat every time I see it. Irene Dunne was a classy lady in anything she did, and can be as quietly funny as she can be dramatic, as she demonstrated in this film. She was a great "straight-man," too, to Cary Grant's more animated role. I truly love this film.
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A Generally Effective Bittersweet Story
Snow Leopard12 August 2004
With sympathetic main characters and an approach that is usually understated enough to avoid over-sentimentality, this bittersweet story works reasonably well most of the time. Irene Dunne plays this kind of role well, handling a wide range of material while keeping her emotions and reactions restrained enough to be believable. Cary Grant is better than one might expect him to be in this kind of role. It's possible that Edgar Buchanan's performance might be the most important of all in holding it together, since he is ideal in providing some down-to-earth balance, whether his character is repairing printing presses or giving the young couple some tips on taking care of their baby.

Director George Stevens does a good job with the pacing, and the story-framing technique with the various songs works pretty well. While there may be a few moments when the sentimentality gets dangerously high, most of the time it remains balanced, and certainly more so than is the case with present-day movies of this kind. It's far from flawless, but it is generally effective in telling the kind of story that takes a combination of sensitivity and restraint to tell believably.
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A Beauty
blissfilm16 June 2004
One of the best films made. 1941 was a phenomenal year, not least for this film and Grant's marvelous performance. Call it melodrama, but it's the stuff of life, heartbreak and love and helpless vulnerability. How unfashionable.

I could watch Edgar Buchanan wash that baby a thousand times. Find me one actor with enough life experience today to do that scene. Just one.

Independent films today often seem to strive to make the point that human drama is about the struggles and relationships of private life. We call it "sentiment" when studios made films about this sort of drama and what's ultimately important on the most private level.
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Grant, Dunne & Stevens Eleveate This Soaper
ccthemovieman-13 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Talk about a simple storyline: a couple wants to have kids. That's basically it. Once they (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne) have finally have one, the baby dies before birth. Then, they adopt a baby who makes it to about age six or seven and then dies after a quick illness.

Near the end, when the couple is ready to divorce because they couldn't handle this tragedy, another baby is offered to them, they accept and live happily ever after. Some parts of this are stupid - certainly the divorce angle - but this soap opera works because of the actors. Grant is excellent in the male lead, adding some good, much-needed comedy in spots. Dunne is very believable in her role. Edgar Buchanan ("Applejack") elevates this film with a very likable role. Beulah Bondi's "Miss Oliver" looks like the proverbial "old battle-ax" but proves to be a very caring person.

Another good feature of this film is that it was directed by George Stevens, one of the best of all time.

One thing I have yet to find: a good print of this movie. Whether VHS or DVD, it's always a lousy transfer. When is a decent DVD going to come out? Beware of anything retailing for $7.99 and below.
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Another Cary Grant charmer with a lot of insights
repete_recording18 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
George Stevens' heartwarming study of the trials and tribulations of a young married couple is how TV Guide describes this work of art,but you have to see this to understand how heartwarming a movie can be. As I watch this I am enchanted with Irene Dunne's and Cary Grant's performances. Even crotchety Edgar Buchanan (as Applejack) is a softy in this movie...I like his performance in this better than all his others. The insights to adopting a baby and early parenthood as it was and still is in some respects are truly the heart of this movie. Since I was adopted it is even more poignant for me. Cary Grant's plea to the judge to keep their child is one of his best moments in any film. Update 14 years to the day later,I am not as enchanted but maybe that's just me.I'm going to add the spoiler because it's such a major part of this movie and my life.The death of a child is the worst experience a parent can go through. Some don't recover as this couple almost didn't. I don't think many,if any parents would act like the ones in this movie with the news that another child was available for adoption,so that diminished the movie for me.
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Cary Grant's best performance
renelle17 July 2004
One well written movie of the 40's. To this day, this movie will hold your attention even though you will find no vulgarity, nudity or violence.

Tragedy turns to comedy with tale of a writer and his newlywed desperate to settle down in a traditional American lifestyle, start a new business and have a family. Their innocence is refreshing, and the writer has such timing in the course of events that you find yourself wanting to help this couple diaper a baby!!!

Cary Grant "nails" this performance with his "heart-felt" speech in front of a judge. (Get a box of tissue for this one.) The body/language between Grant's and Dunn's character make this movie charming and realistic.

You find yourself laughing out-loud with the "every-day-problems-of-life" this couple gets themselves involved with......good for the whole family. A must see and a true classic.
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jotix1004 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Julie Adams is seen going through recordings as the story unfolds; each song she plays brings back memories, and it represents a chapter in her life. Julie who has decided to leave her husband, Roger, remembers aspects of an unfulfilled life. The thing she most wanted in the world is denied to her: being a mother. Not everything in Julie's life has been bad, as we get to know her. Julie was lucky in finding a man like Roger, who did everything possible for her, except give her the child she longed for.

As Roger returns home from Japan, he establishes a small paper. He struggles to keep it going, but unfortunately, his business doesn't make it. It's at this juncture in their life when Roger and Julie decide to adopt. They are lucky in that the kind head of the agency, Miss Oliver, realizes they have all it takes to be good parents, even though their finances don't add up. When Trina, the infant girl, is offered to them, they decide to take the chance. Roger, who wanted a boy, has an emotional encounter with a judge that wants to take the girl away from him and Julie when his paper folds.

As Trina, the infant girl, is brought home, Julie and Roger realize how ill prepared they are to take care of the baby. Applejack, who helps run the paper, saves them from their own awkwardness and shows the couple how babies are taken care of. Trina, who grows to be a sweet little girl, contracts a mysterious illness and dies. Her death, together with all the Adams' financial problems, breaks their marriage. We watch Julie preparing to do, but the providential call from Miss Oliver with the offer of a new orphan boy, serves to bring the Adams' together.

George Stevens directed skilfully this melodrama. By emphasizing the financial problem of the Adams', and not dwelling in Trina's tragic loss, Mr. Stevens got away from the total tear jerker the material could have turned in the hands of another director.

Irene Dunne and Cary Grant had appeared in two other comedies before. Without a doubt, Cary Grant steals the picture with his amazing take on Roger Adams, a man who is a reluctant adoptive father, only to have his heart stolen by Trina. Mr. Grant proved here he could have easily made a serious dramatic actor. Ms. Dunne is also effective as Julie, a woman who can't have children of her own. Edgar Buchanan is seen as the loyal Applejack, and Beulah Bondi appears as the kind Miss Oliver, the woman who brings happiness to the Adams.

The film is worth seeing because of Cary Grant's invaluable contribution to the film.
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