The Five Pennies

The Five Pennies

Melville Shavelson (1959)

U Certificate


Our Score
After the success of James Stewart in The Glenn Miller Story, glossy bandleader biopics enjoyed a brief vogue, and this dramatic but schmaltzy Paramount music-fest is one of the best. Danny Kaye is perfectly cast as cornettist "Red" Nichols, whose life seemed like a scriptwriter's invention. When his daughter Dorothy (played as a teenager by a wonderful Tuesday Weld) contracted polio, he threw away his instrument, only to enjoy a revival as her health improved. There's a super jam session with Louis Armstrong, plus some fine songs, including a lovely Lullaby in Ragtime from the film's associate producer Sylvia Fine (aka Mrs Danny Kaye). All in all, an excellent example of a 1950s studio crowd-pleaser.


Biopic of 1920s jazz musician Loring `Red' Nichols, who formed a successful Dixieland band with his wife. The couple were forced to disband when their daughter developed polio. But as she entered her teens, the girl found a way to repay the sacrifice her parents had made. Starring Danny Kaye and Barbara Bel Geddes, with Louis Armstrong appearing as himself.

Cast & Crew

Ernest Loring Nichols Danny Kaye
Willa Stutsman Barbara Bel Geddes
Himself Louis Armstrong
Tony Valani Harry Guardino
Wil Paradise Bob Crosby
Arthur Schutt Bobby Troup
Jimmy Dorsey Ray Anthony
Dave Tough Shelly Manne
Director Melville Shavelson
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Paramount Film Service LtdAvailable on: DVD