Penny Serenade (1941)
Penny Serenade is a 1941 American melodrama film directed by George Stevens starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant as 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.
The film charts the meeting, courtship and marriage of Julie Gardiner (Irene Dunne) and Roger Adams (Cary Grant) through the playing of popular songs relevant to each time period. After their spur-of-the-moment marriage on New Year’s Eve and a night in Roger’s train compartment en route to San Francisco, a pregnant Julie rejoins Roger in Tokyo, where he has a stint as a reporter. Julie loses their unborn child in the 1923 Tokyo earthquake and returns with Roger to California despondent, until their friend Applejack Carney (Edgar Buchanan) encourages them to adopt a child. While Roger struggles to keep a newspaper going in the fictional California town of Rosalia, Julie keeps house and fits out the nursery.
They apply at an adoption agency for a two-year-old boy, and receive a call from Miss Oliver (Beulah Bondi) that a five-week-old baby girl is available. Though Roger would have preferred a boy, he falls in love with the baby, and he and Julie care for her during their one-year probation period. At the end of that time Roger has lost the newspaper, and the law will not allow him to adopt the baby without an income. Roger appears before the judge and delivers an impassioned plea to keep the girl, whom he considers his own. The judge awards custody, and Roger returns home to Julie with their daughter.
Years later, Roger and Julie swell with pride as their daughter, Trina, not yet old enough to play an angel in the Christmas play, plays the “echo” instead. The following Christmas, Julie writes to Miss Oliver that Trina has died from a sudden illness. The child’s death sends Roger into a deep depression, and Julie resolves to leave him, believing he no longer needs her. Just as she is about to leave for the train station, the couple receive a phone call from Miss Oliver, saying that a two-year-old boy has just become available for adoption. Roger and Julie embrace, ready to rebuild their marriage with a new child.
Directed by George Stevens
Screenplay by Morrie Ryskind
Based on Penny Serenade (1940 McCall’s story) by Martha Cheavens
Produced by George Stevens
Restored and Colorized by moonflix, LLC
Irene Dunne as Julie 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 (age 6)
Leonard Willey as Doctor Hartley
Wallis Clark as Judge
Walter Soderling as Billings
Jane Biffle (listed as “Baby Biffle” in end-credits) as Trina (age 1)
Original release date:
April 24, 1941