16 user 5 critic

The Gene Krupa Story (1959)

Biopic of famous jazz drummer, Gene Krupa, who becomes a sensation but cannot handle success and life in the fast lane and ends-up broke, struggling with drugs and alcohol.


Don Weis


Orin Jannings
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 ... Self
Bobby Troup ... Tommy Dorsey
Anita O'Day ... Self
Shelly Manne ... Davey Tough
Buddy Lester ... Self


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) »


The Pounding Story of a Jazz Great! See more »


Biography | Drama | Music


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Did You Know?


Sal Mineo (Gene) and Susan Kohner (Ethel), previously appeared together in "Dino" (1957). See more »


In the spring and summer of 1930, Krupa made 7 records with Bix in NYC., most famously Barnacle Bill the Sailor in an All-Star band hand picked by Hoagy Carmichael which included Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Venuti & Lang. See more »


[first lines]
Father: How many times am I going to tell you?
Gene Krupa: Papa.
Father: How many times? Banging on pots and pans and garbage can covers wasn't enough noise for you. And driving us all crazy by playin' on the washboard with mother's thimble. That was not enough noise either.
Gene Krupa: But it doesn't have to be noise. There's music in drums, Papa. I know there is.
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Referenced in A Work in Progress (1996) See more »


Memories of You
Music by Eubie Blake
Lyrics by Andy Razaf
Sung by Anita O'Day
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User Reviews

Sal Mineo Goes Drum Crazy Over Gene Krupa
12 December 2010 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

In 1927 Chicago, gum-chewing Italian teenager Sal Mineo (as Gene Krupa) wants to be a professional drummer, but his family would rather he become a priest. He tries the latter, but Mr. Mineo can't keep his hands off of the drumsticks. He makes it big, with trumpet-swinging best pal James Darren (as Eddie Sirota) and pretty girlfriend Susan Kohner (as Ethel Maguire) in tow. Then, at the height of his fame, Mineo gets bitten by the drug bug. He succumbs to sexy Susan Oliver (as Dorissa Dinell) and is busted for possession of "reefer" (marijuana). Can Mineo battle his way back to the top?

The four stars above - plus young Yvonne Craig (as Gloria) - have some sexy scenes, with clothing hugging their curves.

The subject of "The Gene Krupa Story" receives an on-screen credit, and dubs Mineo's drumming. Their audio-visual collaboration is sometimes amazing, with Mineo frantically following Mr. Krupa's licks. This story of a musician's rise and fall may seem very formulaic, but the sex and drug road trip really happens; it's certainly a well-worn path. Unfortunately, there isn't much distinction in this story. Mineo never ages (Krupa's drug bust was in 1943), obvious hits like "Let Me Off Uptown" and "Sing, Sing, Sing (with a Swing)" are omitted, and the 1950s fashion clearly trumps the fabricated 1920s look.

****** The Gene Krupa Story (12/23/59) Don Weis ~ Sal Mineo, James Darren, Susan Kohner, Susan Oliver

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

December 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Drummer Man See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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