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Pete Kelly's Blues Details


Pete Kelly's Blues is arguably the most stylish of director/star Jack Webb's theatrical features. Beginning with a brilliantly evocative pre-credits prologue, wherein we see how WWI vet Pete Kelly (Webb) came into possession of his precious trumpet, the film traces Kelly to his 1927 gig at a Kansas City speakeasy. Most of the film concerns Kelly's efforts to keep his "Big Seven" aggregation together, his off-and-on romance with socialite Ivy Conrad (Janet Leigh), and his frequent confrontations with mob boss Fran McCarg (Edmond O'Brien). The Richard L. Breen screenplay is full of the deliciously hyperbolic allusions, similes, and metaphors that characterized Webb's radio version of Pete Kelly's Blues, while the musical score is graced by the jazz artistry of such greats as Ella Fitzgerald and Teddy Buckner. Peggy Lee, cast as a mob mistress who is rendered an imbecile after falling down a flight of stars, deservedly earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Likewise superb is Andy Devine, cast against type as a corrupt, brutal Kansas City detective, and Lee Marvin as Kelly's best pal. Disney art director Harper Goff, who'd been performing miracles on Webb's TV series Harper Goff, brilliantly sustains the smoky zeitgeist of the Prohibition era. Pete Kelly's Blues was later spun off into a TV series starring William Reynolds as Kelly. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:July 31, 1955


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Peggy Lee Best Supporting Actress 1955 Nominee


Jack Webb
as Pete Kelly
Janet Leigh
as Ivy Conrad
Edmond O'Brien
as Fran McCarg
Peggy Lee
as Rose Hopkins
Andy Devine
as George Tenell
Lee Marvin
as Al Gannaway
Ella Fitzgerald
as Maggie Jackson
Martin Milner
as Joey Firestone
Than Wyenn
as Rudy
Herb Ellis
as Bedido
Jayne Mansfield
as Cigarette Girl
Mort Marshall
as Cootie Jacobs
Nesdon Booth
as Squat Henchman
Dick Cathcart
as Cornetist
Harper Goff
Joe Venuti
Dick Cathcart
as Cornetist


Jack Webb
Jack Webb
Harold Hal Rosson
Sammy Cahn
Composer (Music Score)
Ray Heindorf
Composer (Music Score)
Arthur Hamilton
Composer (Music Score)
Harper Goff
Production Designer
John Sturtevant
Set Designer
Howard Shoup
Costume Designer
Gordon Bau