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The Gene Krupa Story (1959)

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 »


Don Weis


Orin Jannings

On Disc

at Amazon

Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Sal Mineo ... Gene Krupa
Susan Kohner ... Ethel Maguire
James Darren ... Eddie Sirota
Susan Oliver ... Dorissa Dinell
Yvonne Craig ... Gloria Corregio
Lawrence Dobkin ... Speaker Willis
Celia Lovsky ... Mother
Red Nichols Red Nichols ... Himself
Bobby Troup ... Tommy Dorsey
Anita O'Day ... Herself
Shelly Manne ... Davey Tough
Buddy Lester ... Himself


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 | drugs | drummer | jazz | seminary | See All (32) »


He hammered out the savage tempo of the jazz era! See more »


Biography | Drama | Music


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Release Date:

December 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jazz-Ekstase See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 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 scene between Gene and Ethel, right after Gene's mother argues with him in the speakeasy about the priesthood, Ethel's small handbag on the table is closer to her on the close-in shots than it is on the longer shots. See more »


Gene Krupa: Who's the singer?
Dorissa Dinell: Anita O'Day.
Gene Krupa: She's good.
Dorissa Dinell: Not bad - if you like talent.
See more »


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


Song of India
Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

They weren't my reefers!
10 May 2011 | by Chase_WitherspoonSee all my reviews

Biography of penultimate jazz drummer Krupa (played here with enthusiasm by young Sal Mineo) as he achieves fame and fortune for his unique talent, then squanders his success on alcohol, illicit substances and loose women. Mineo is sharp and authentic-looking in his impersonations of the frenetic, almost chaotic looking drumming, while Kohner is his antithesis, a placid, mature girl who despite his lack of judgment and indiscretions, sticks by him, ultimately resurrecting his career after he's incarcerated for narcotics possession (in spite of his protests "they weren't my reefers!"). She encourages him to learn to read music, while his fair-weather friends encourage him to party to excess, his grip on the sticks stutters and concerns grow for his well being.

Larry Dobkin is Krupa's cool-as-cucumber attorney, but the trio of girls assembled to tempt Mineo (principally youthful Craig and sultry Oliver) are welcome distractions from the musical numbers (which are superbly choreographed and not over represented). Darren isn't bad as his trumpet-playing concerned friend and future "Love Boat" captain Gavin McLeod is on deck in a small role as Krupa's brother.

The subject matter is handled with conservatism and the drug dependency issue isn't really explored in any detail (the scene in which he rejects Oliver's offer of a doobie is a little cheesy, surely even by the contemporary standards). Still it's a bit more than a casual theme, and this is more than just a string of musical numbers loosely bound in a biopic melodrama. Mineo's performance is well balanced, while Kohner is appropriately understated and the musical numbers more than compensate for any particular lack of dramatic intensity. Worth a look.

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