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Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)

It was Kansas City, not New Orleans.

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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)
John Dennis ...
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  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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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

In the office at the bar, a picture of Pres. Warren G Harding is hanging on the wall. See more »

Quotes

Ivy Conrad: What are you doing?
Pete Kelly: Making tea.
Ivy Conrad: Could I have some?
Pete Kelly: You won't like it. I'm using water.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Just a Closer Walk with Thee
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by choir of Israelite Spiritual Church, New Orleans
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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