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Penny Serenade (1941)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 24 April 1941 (USA)
A couple's big dreams give way to a life full of unexpected sadness and unexpected joy.



(screen play), (story)

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


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Complete credited cast:
... Julie Gardiner
... Roger Adams
... Miss Oliver
... Applejack
... Dotty
Eva Lee Kuney ... Trina (at the Age of 6 Years)
Leonard Willey ... Doctor Hartley
Wallis Clark ... Judge
... Billings
Jane Biffle ... Trina (at the Age of 1 Year) (as Baby Biffle)


As Julie prepares to leave her husband Roger, she begins to play through a stack of recordings, each of which reminds her of events in their lives together. One of them is the song that was playing when she and Roger first met in a music store. Other songs remind her of their courtship, their marriage, their desire for a child, and the joys and sorrows that they have shared. A flood of memories comes back to her as she ponders their present problems and how they arose. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


REMEMBER THE NIGHT THEY WERE SINGING..."THE NIGHT WE FELL IN LOVE"? - (original poster-all caps) See more »


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 April 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La canción del recuerdo  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


It appears Julie and Roger were in Japan c. 1930. The song "You Were Meant for Me" came out in 1929 and the yen-dollar exchange rate was about 2:1 in 1930-1931. The 2,000 yen Roger tells Julie the household costs in Japan would equal the $1,000 he says. That would equate to $14,500 in 2017. See more »


The record shown playing is a bat wing Victor that was produced prior to 1925, making it historically incorrect. See more »


Judge: [Judge firmly addressing two unseen attorneys] I'll give you an opportunity to better prepare your facts.
Man: [Hands Judge some papers] Adoption proceedings, the Adams case.
Judge: What?
Man: The Adams case.
Judge: [Looks disturbed] Oh yes, yes. Uh...
[turns back to attorneys]
Judge: if either one or both of you gentlemen conduct yourselves like you've been doing today I'll hold you in contempt, the both of ya!
Judge: [Walks into chambers, sees Roger, Miss Oliver, and the baby all seated. Sits at desk] Uh, oh this is the child in ...
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Featured in The Squeeze (1987) See more »


The Wedding March
(1842) (uncredited)
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played after the wedding ceremony
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Memorable Film In Need Of Restoration and Re-Release
10 April 2005 | by See all my reviews

Directed by George Stevens and starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, PENNY SERENADE was among the most admired films of 1941. But it seems the film has now drifted into public domain, and the result is incredibly dire: a very muddy soundtrack coupled to a picture that shudders and shakes so that you can barely stand to look at it.

This a great pity, for PENNY SERENADE is a fine film that deserves much better. The concept is simple: as wife Julie (Irene Dunne) packs to leave her husband Roger (Cary Grant), she plays the various records the two have collected over the years. Each recording recalls the various phases of their lives: their chance meeting, their rather unexpected marriage, early years spent in the far east. But they are unhappy in their inability to have a child--and so they return to the United States to adopt. But their happiness ends in tragedy, a tragedy which neither seem able to surmount.

The story is sentimental melodrama, of course, but it transcends its own genre. George Stevens was one of the great directors of Hollywood's golden age--director of such diverse classics as A PLACE IN THE SUN, SHANE, and WOMAN OF THE YEAR. In lesser hands the film might have been reduced to pure soap, but he strikes the perfect balance between charm and tearfulness. The leads are equally perfect, with both Irene Dunne and Cary Grant (who were memorably teamed in such frantic screwball comedies MY FAVORITE WIFE and THE AWFUL TRUTH) discarding their broad comedic skills in favor of plausible humor and sincerity. The supporting cast, which sports nice performances by the likes of Beulah Bondi and Edgar Buchanan, is also very fine, the script is quite good, and the cinematography both functional and elegant.

But all this counts for nothing if you cannot actually stand to watch the truly awful VHS and DVD versions available. And they really are that bad. Over the years I've picked up several copies of this film released by several companies--Madacy, Laserlight, and most recently Front Row--and although the transfers vary a bit from company to company they are never more than extremely bad and quite often down-right unwatchable. This is a film in desperate need of restoration, and until it receives that you're better off looking for it on the late-late show--for I can almost guarantee that the print you will find there will be superior to virtually any home-market release you can lay hands on.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT

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