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Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Music | 31 July 1955 (USA)
In 1927, a Kansas City, Missouri cornet player and his band perform nightly at a seedy speakeasy until a racketeer tries to extort them in exchange for protection.

Director:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Webb ... Pete Kelly
Janet Leigh ... Ivy Conrad
Edmond O'Brien ... Fran McCarg
Peggy Lee ... Rose Hopkins
Andy Devine ... George Tenell
Lee Marvin ... Al Gannaway
Ella Fitzgerald ... Maggie Jackson
Martin Milner ... Joey Firestone
Than Wyenn Than Wyenn ... Rudy Shulak
Herbert Ellis Herbert Ellis ... Bedido (as Herb Ellis)
John Dennis ... Guy Bettenhouser
Jayne Mansfield ... Cigarette Girl
Mort Marshall ... Cootie Jacobs
Moe Schneider Moe Schneider ... Trombonist (Big 7)
George Van Eps 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 {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

All the Drama...Color...Glamor of the Exciting Jazz-Mad 20's!...with its great music, flappers, quick money! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Music

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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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 »

Quotes

[first lines]
New Orleans Funeral Mourner: Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust, If the women don't get you, The whiskey must.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"In the screenplay by Richard L. Breen" appears before the film's title. See more »

Connections

Spin-off Pete Kelly's Blues (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Hard Hearted Hannah
(uncredited)
Written by Milton Ager, Jack Yellen, Bob Bigelow and Charles Bates
Performed by Ella Fitzgerald
See more »

User Reviews

 
Jack Has Jazz
13 December 2014 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

By 1927, jazzy cornet player Jack Webb (as Pete Kelly) and his seven-piece combo are the house band at a speakeasy in Kansas City, Missouri. All seems well until gangster Edmond O'Brien (as Fran McCarg) demands Mr. Webb hand over 25 percent of the band's earnings in return for his marginal managerial skills. Webb is also required to make Mr. McCarg's attractive girlfriend Peggy Lee (as Rose Hopkins) his instrumental group's lead singer. Webb must pay up or see his band members roughed up and/or gunned down. After some debate, the band is persuaded to play it safe. Then, Webb changes his tune and decides to fight...

"Dragnet" radio and TV star Webb directs his cast and crew very well. He does not waste an inch of the "CinemaScope" screen. When space is used, it's for dramatic effect. What this story needed was better exposition and some more time given Mr. O'Brien's character. Strangely, Webb gets fine performances from all except his leading man. He varies his stiff stance by repositioning his hands, but Webb seems to have his mind on directing and his character never really forms. Trying to romance Webb in her scenes, beautiful Janet Leigh (as Ivy Conrad) is fighting a lost cause. There are no sparks flying between the two...

Given the juiciest part, as an alcoholic singer, Ms. Lee is excellent; she won Film Daily's annual "Supporting Actress" award. Andy Devine, Lee Marvin and Martin Milner are impressive, in featured roles. Webb used Mr. Milner when he produced "Adam-12" as a younger, hipper "Dragnet" for the 1960s (and 1970s). It's amusing to watch Webb punch any male member of the cast who gets in his way. He repeatedly knocks out Mr. Marvin, a much bigger man, with surprising ease. And, you can't go wrong when Ella Fitzgerald appears as a lounge singer. The music, cast and wide screen visuals made this one worth watching.

******* Pete Kelly's Blues (7/27/55) Jack Webb ~ Jack Webb ~ Jack Webb, Janet Leigh, Peggy Lee, Edmond O'Brien


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 July 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pete Kelly's Blues See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mark VII Ltd. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound Recording) (magnetic prints)| Mono (RCA Sound Recording) (optical prints)

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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