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Penny Serenade


Touching romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Find out more about this film at its IMDB page.

Penny Serenade is a 1941 in film film melodrama starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Beulah Bondi, and Edgar Buchanan. The picture was directed by George Stevens, written by Martha Cheavens and Morrie Ryskind, and depicts the story of a loving couple who must overcome adversity to keep their marriage and raise a child. Grant was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.

Plot summary

While listening to a recording of "You Were Meant for Me (1929 song)," Julie Gardiner Adams (Irene Dunne) begins lecting on her past. Roger (Cary Grant) and Julie Adams suffer a tragedy when she Miscarriage in an earthquake during their 1930 stay in Japan (a remarkably realistic re-creation of an earlier Great Kanto Earthquake). They are told that she cannot have children. They request to adopt a two-year old boy, but ultimately adopt a much younger girl. They struggle to make ends meet and to retain their parental rights when Roger's newspaper-publishing business fails. When the little girl dies suddenly, the emotional strain threatens to destroy their marriage. Songs mark episodes in the action from Gramophone record from their collection—the title ers to a song of the same name. In the end, they are offered the opportunity to adopt a little boy who matches their original request, miraculously saving their marriage.


  • Irene Dunne as Julie Gardiner Adams
  • Cary Grant as Roger Adams
  • Beulah Bondi as Miss Oliver
  • Edgar Buchanan as Applejack Carney
  • Ann Doran as Dotty "Dot"
  • Eva Lee Kuney as Trina (6 years old)
  • Leonard Willey as Doctor Hartley
  • Wallis Clark as Judge
  • Walter Soderling as Billings
  • Jane Biffle as Trina (1 year old)
The part of Trina was played by two pairs of identical twins at different ages.< name="timemag"/>


File:Cary Grant-Irene Dunne in Penny Serenade.jpg
Time (magazine) said "Grant and Dunne cannot overcome the ten-little-fingers-and-ten-little-toes plot. Written by scripter Morrie Ryskind, produced and directed by George Stevens (Alice Adams (film)), it is too often a moving picture which does not move. Skillful direction saves it from turning maudlin."< name="timemag"></> Bosley Crowther, in a somewhat ambivalent review, concludes "some very credible acting on the part of Mr. Grant and Miss Dunne is responsible in the main for the infectious quality of the film. Edgar Buchanan, too, gives an excellent performance as a good-old-Charlie friend, and Beulah Bondi is sensible as an orphanage matron. Heart-warming is the word for both of them. As a matter of fact, the whole picture deliberately cozies up to the heart. Noël Coward once drily observed how extraordinarily potent cheap music is. That is certainly true of Penny Serenade.<></>
Grant was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, losing at the 14th Academy Awards to Gary Cooper's portrayal of Sergeant York (film).
On the film review website Rotten Tomatoes, Penny Serenade receives a "Fresh" rating with 93% (15 of 16) of its T-meter critics reviewed the film positively.


Penny Serenade was dramatized as a half-hour radio play on the November 16, 1941 broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater, starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in their original roles. It was also presented as an hour-long drama on Lux Radio Theater, first on April 27, 1942 with Robert Taylor (actor) and Barbara Stanwyck, then on May 8, 1944 with Joseph Cotten and Irene Dunne. Dunne again starred in July 1953 on CBS Radio's General Electric Theater.<></>

A television adaptation for Lux Video Theatre, starring Phyllis Thaxter, was broadcast in January 1955 on NBC.<></>

Copyright status

The film was released by Columbia Pictures, with George Stevens' production firm owning the copyright. In 1968, the film went into the public domain.<></> The original elements are now with Viacom, via the company's former Republic Pictures library.

See also

  • List of films in the public domain in the United States

  • Penny Serenade] on
    Category:1941 films
    Category:1940s romantic drama films
    Category:American romantic drama films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:Columbia Pictures films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Films about adoption
    Category:Films directed by George Stevens
    Category:Films set in California
    Category:Films set in Japan
  • More Public Domain Movies