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The Five Pennies (1959)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music  |  August 1959 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,240 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 16 critic

Loring "Red" Nichols is a cornet-playing country boy who goes to New York in the 1920s full of musical ambition and principles. He gets a job playing in Wil Paradise's band, but quits to ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Director: Vincent Sherman
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Complete credited cast:
'Red' Nichols
Willa Stutsman
Tony Valani
Bob Crosby ...
Wil Paradise
Artie Schutt
Ray Anthony ...
Dave Tough
Ray Daley ...
Valerie Allen ...
Tommye Eden


Loring "Red" Nichols is a cornet-playing country boy who goes to New York in the 1920s full of musical ambition and principles. He gets a job playing in Wil Paradise's band, but quits to pursue his dream of playing Dixieland jazz. He forms the "Five Pennies" which features his wife, Bobbie, as vocalist. At the peak of his fame, Red and Bobbie's daughter, Dorothy, develops polio. Red quits the music business to move to Los Angeles where the climate is better for Dorothy. As Dorothy becomes a young teen, she learns of her father's musical past, and he is persuaded to open a small nightclub which is failing until some noted names from his past come to help out. Written by Ray Hamel <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

1920s | nightclub | fame | band | jazz | See All (39) »


Biography | Drama | Music


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

August 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Las cinco monedas  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Keep an eye out for a cameo by Bob Hope and the crack Danny Kaye makes about him, as he, Barbara Bel Geddes and a very young Tuesday Weld wait to get into the Brown Derby restaurant. See more »


After Red and Willa have left the club and are traveling home, the cars seen through the rear window of the taxicab are distinctly 1940's to 1950's vehicles which were nonexistent in 1924. See more »


Referenced in You Bet Your Life: Episode #10.22 (1960) See more »


Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?
(1902) (uncredited)
Written by Hughie Cannon
Performed by Louis Armstrong at the speakeasy
See more »

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User Reviews

A Powerful and Compelling Work of Art
27 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Danny Kaye is known for his comic roles; for his laughter, his singing, his dancing, his light-hearted humor. But this movie presents a different Danny Kaye - serious, brooding, consumed with guilt, confronted by really serious problems - and here Danny Kaye shines. This movie is proof that if he had to, Danny Kaye could have been one of the greatest dramatic actors in the history of motion pictures. There is no question about that. In this movie, Kaye puts aside the clowning to play a subdued, moody and introspective character who nevertheless is still likable and worthy of attention. And it works! In the movie he wins over the audience, he wins over his family, he wins over his friends. And who can ever forget the scene with Louis Armstrong? Kaye's character overcomes all obstacles to triumph and to be loved. Only a highly skilled and sensitive actor could have done the job, and in this movie Danny Kaye proved that he had the requisite qualities to transform what could have been little more than a sudsy soap opera into a powerful statement about a man who, along with his family, not only survives but sets an example for others. For this reason, this movie is a powerful and compelling work of art.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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