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The Gene Krupa Story (1959)

 -  Biography | Drama | Music  -  December 1959 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 398 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 4 critic

The story of legendary jazz drummer, Gene Krupa. Since his youth, all Gene ever wanted to do is play the drums and make music. This is something his parents would not approve of- they want ... See full summary »



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Title: The Gene Krupa Story (1959)

The Gene Krupa Story (1959) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Complete credited cast:
Gene Krupa
Ethel Maguire
Eddie Sirota
Dorissa Dinell
Gloria Corregio
Lawrence Dobkin ...
Speaker Willis
Red Nichols ...
Tommy Dorsey
Anita O'Day ...
Davey Tough


The story of legendary jazz drummer, Gene Krupa. Since his youth, all Gene ever wanted to do is play the drums and make music. This is something his parents would not approve of- they want him to be a priest. When Gene's father dies he promises to enter the priesthood. He soon realizes that he doesn't belong there and leaves to join his friend, Eddie's band. Ethel, Eddie's girlfriend, convinces Gene to go to New York and make it big. The 3 of them head to New York. Here Ethel and Gene soon fall in love and Gene makes a name for himself. Gene starts to live in the fast lane, with drugs, alcohol, women and parties. Ethel, unhappy with Gene's lifestyle, leaves him. Gene soon "hits rock bottom" where he has to face reality and choose where to take his life. Written by Kelly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

band | drummer | jazz | drugs | showbiz | See more »


He hammered out the savage tempo of the jazz era!


Biography | Drama | Music


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Release Date:

December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Gene Krupa Story  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


When the film opened in Krupa's hometown of Chicago at the Schiller Theatre on January 15, 1960 both Gene Krupa and Sal Mineo were on hand to greet the public and sign "fan fotos." See more »


In the final scene, when Krupa makes his comeback appearance with Tommy Dorsey's band, the set he's playing changes in the close-ups from the front left. The high hat cymbals are in a different position, and the tom tom to his left disappears completely. See more »


[Gene is offered a marijuana cigarette]
Gene Krupa: Reefers huh? So that's what they look like.
See more »


Featured in Police Story: The Broken Badge (1978) See more »


Spiritual Jazz
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Bang The Drum Briskly
25 April 2006 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

If you've ever wanted to be a drummer this is the film for you. Even if the sounds of percussion instruments leave you with a pounding headache, it's still a good film to watch, for the acting and for the general atmosphere the film evokes.

With a straightforward, linear plot, "The Gene Krupa Story" highlights some of the career events of the legendary drummer, from his high school days in Chicago until his comeback from the depths, following an unfortunate incident in San Francisco. Krupa comes across in the film as outgoing, ambitious, single-minded, determined, and unable to handle success.

The story spans roughly a twenty year period from the late 1920s to the late 1940. Sal Mineo has the title role ... and what an acting job! In scenes with dialogue, his performance is intense, subtle, and very convincing. But, when Mineo mimics Krupa's frenetic drum solos, Mineo's performance is electrifying.

Both Susan Kohner as Krupa's love interest, and Susan Oliver as a femme fatale with attitude, further elevate the overall acting level. And the B&W cinematography from Charles Lawton, Jr., combined with smoke filled rooms and jazzy/blues music, is wonderfully suggestive of the beat generation of the 1950s, even though we are supposed to believe that it is an earlier era.

On the downside, the story is only partly factual. Production values are hardly better than average, and the editing is at times sloppy. The film has an inexplicably abrupt ending.

Overall, I recommend this film for the jazzy atmosphere of a bygone era, and especially for the high quality acting. "The Gene Krupa Story" is worth watching, if for no other reason than to marvel at Sal Mineo's ability to bang the drum briskly.

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Not the best musician biopic I'ver ever seen, but... hisown
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