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Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)

In 1927, a Kansas City, Missouri cornet player and his band perform nightly at a seedy speakeasy until a racketeer tries to extort them in exchange for protection.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Fran McCarg
...
Rose Hopkins
...
George Tenell
...
Al Gannaway
...
Maggie Jackson
...
Joey Firestone
Than Wyenn ...
Rudy Shulak
Herbert Ellis ...
Bedido (as Herb Ellis)
...
Guy Bettenhouser
...
Cigarette Girl
Mort Marshall ...
Cootie Jacobs
Moe Schneider ...
Band member (Big 7)
George Van Eps ...
Guitarist (Big 7)
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Storyline

In 1927 Kansas City Pete Kelly and his jazz band play nightly at a speakeasy. A local gangster starts to move in on them and when their drummer is killed Kelly gives in, even though this also means taking the thug's alcoholic girl as a singer. Kelly soon realises he has made a big mistake selling out in this way and that rich girl Ivy is now the only decent thing in his life. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It was the jazz-mad wide open '20s-great music, bad booze-and a bullet if you didn't jump for the mob. This is the story of a man who wouldn't jump. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Music

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 July 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Es geschah in einer Nacht  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording) (magnetic prints)| (RCA Sound Recording) (optical prints)

Color:

(WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film takes place in 1927. See more »

Quotes

Ivy Conrad: You don't want to get married Pete; unless you find a girl that looks like a cornet. I'm short three valves. I might as well pack up an move someplace else.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Colgate Comedy Hour: Episode #5.33 (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

Somebody Loves Me
(uncredited)
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Buddy G. DeSylva and Ballard MacDonald
Played by "Big 7" (Matty Matlock's Dixielanders)
Sung by Peggy Lee
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Music and gangsters collide in the roaring 20's.
4 February 2002 | by (Front Royal, VA) – See all my reviews

"Pete Kelly's Blues" gave Jack Webb a chance to direct and star in this film that compliments his close, tight, factual emphasis on the characters and the story. It's a no-nonsense film that combines some good musical moments with the times of the roaring 20's, when the gangs were determined to make money in every venture, or cause the venture to cease to exist. Such is the situation for Pete Kelly and his jazz band.

Kelly, played by Webb, enjoys the fact that his band can pretty much come and go as they see fit, perform, collect their fees, and move on to other clubs, other towns. They are good at what they do, and a local gangster, played to the hilt by Edmond O'Brien, sees a chance to move in. He tells Kelly that the band must allow his new girl a chance to perform, plus give him a sizable cut of their appearance money. The singer, played by Peggy Lee, just wants to get a start in show business, and O'Brien wants to control her start on a career. The film moves to an eventual expected climax, but the ending for Peggy Lee is not a happy one.

The cast included Janet Leigh, Andy Devine, Lee Marvin (a good guy role), and Ella Fitzgerald, who contributed some moving tunes in her own special style. Peggy Lee did garner an Oscar for best supporting actress, and it was deserved.

A film piece that deserves more than one chance viewing.


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