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Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)

 -  Crime | Drama | Music  -  31 July 1955 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 598 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 6 critic

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 ... See full summary »

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Title: Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)

Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) on IMDb 6.6/10

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Fran McCarg
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Rose Hopkins
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George Tenell
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Al Gannaway
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Maggie Jackson
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Joey Firestone
Than Wyenn ...
Rudy Shulak
Herbert Ellis ...
Bedido (as Herb Ellis)
John Dennis ...
Guy Bettenhouser
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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:

A jazz-man of the wide-open '20s - caught in the crossfire of its blazing .38s! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Music

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Release Date:

31 July 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pete Kelly's Blues  »

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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

Jack Webb actually knew how to play the cornet. He loved jazz music and, as a boy, was given a cornet by a musician who lived near his home. While he never truly mastered the instrument he knew it well enough that his handling and fingering of the cornet in this movie is accurate. See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

I Never Knew
(uncredited)
Music by Ted Fio Rito
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
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User Reviews

 
JACK WEBB'S MASTERPIECE
9 May 2001 | by (Queens, New York) – See all my reviews

"Pete Kelly's Blues" was a do-or-die project for Jack Webb, best known for playing Sgt. Joe Friday on the TV series "Dragnet". Riding on the success of his previous film "Dragnet" (1954), Webb decided to make this film as his next project. If it did well at the box office, Warners would greenlight a TV show of the same name.

"Pete Kelly's Blues" did respectable business (about 5 million), and garnered an Oscar nod for singer Peggy Lee in the Supporting Actress category, but, for reasons unknown, Warners decided to pass on the TV show. Today, "Pete Kelly's Blues" fails to muster much interest and is nearly forgotten today.

Webb's film is dripping in atmosphere, which is a major plus considering the setting (New Orleans during the Roaring Twenties)and the script (by Richard L. Breen, who wrote "Dragnet")is so airtight and taut that you just can't help getting involved in it. I know I've raked Blake Edwards over the coals for paying attention too much to the story sometimes, but with Webb, concentrating on the story is a plus. The acting is excellent, especially by Webb, who some might consider too stiff, but others will consider to be realistic. And using the CinemaScope frame for the first and only time in his career, Webb really creates some complex and stunning compositions. It should be required viewing for all budding cinematographers. It should only be seen widescreen. AMC often airs it this way, showing "Pete Kelly's Blues" in all its 2.55:1 glory.

Webb is one of the most interesting of directors and also the most underappreciated. "Dragnet" told a riveting murder mystery that transcended the TV series. "The D.I." was fairly realistic and daring for its' time (you can't fault it for being more mellow than most Marines films, this was 1957 people!)"-30-" was an interesting clash of styles set in the newspaper industry. With "Pete Kelly's Blues", Webb surrounds it with top notch talent (the cast includes Janet Leigh in an early role and recent Oscar winner Edmond O'Brien and future Oscar winner Lee Marvin)and turns in his most original and best work. If you love jazz, you get lots of it here and Webb shows that besides Clint Eastwood, he is one of the only directors able to understand jazz enough to successfully film it.

Webb deserved a Best Director nomination as well as a Best Picture nod (he also produced the picture; making him one of the first auteurs in film) In any case, "Pete Kelly's Blues" deserves to be treated as much more than a throwaway; it deserves respect and earns it from me. I think anyone will enjoy it though Webb fans will like it even more. You know who you are.

**** out of 4 stars


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