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The Five Pennies Details


The Five Pennies is the life story of influential jazz cornetist Red Nichols, played here by a remarkably straight-faced Danny Kaye. The somewhat romanticized screenplay chronicles Nichols' rise from obscurity, annotates the many future bandleaders who would play with Nichols' "Five Pennies," and details his self-destructive streak and (seeming) inability to conform to changing musical tastes. Weaving in and out of the main story is a sentimental subplot concerning Nichols' physically impaired daughter Dorothy, played by Susan Gordon as a child and by Tuesday Weld (in her movie debut) as a young woman. Nichols's long-suffering wife is portrayed by Barbara Bel Geddes. The storyline occasionally lapses into sappiness and the ending is almost impossibly lachrymose, but the musical highlights save the day. Especially memorable is Danny Kaye's duet with Louis Armstrong. Among the real-life musicians who grace the supporting cast of The Five Pennies are Bob Crosby, Ray Anthony, Shelly Manne, and, as Jimmy Dorsey, Bobby Troup. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:June 18, 1959


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Edith Head Best Color Costume Design 1959 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Leith Stevens Best Musical Score 1959 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Daniel L. Fapp Best Color Cinematography 1959 Nominee


Danny Kaye
as Loring "Red" Nichols
Barbara Bel Geddes
as Bobbie Meredith (Willa Stutsman)
Louis Armstrong
as Himself
Harry Guardino
as Tony Valani
Tuesday Weld
as Dorothy Nichols, 12-14
Susan Gordon
as Dorothy Nichols, ages 6-8
Bob Crosby
as Wil Paradise
Bobby Troup
as Arthur Schutt
Shelly Manne
as Dave Tough
Ray Daley
as Glenn Miller
Earl Barton
as Choreographer
Ned Glass
as Murray
Bob Hope
as Himself
Blanche Sweet
as Bit
Bob Hope
as Himself
Earl Barton
as Choreographer
Ned Glass
as Murray


Melville Shavelson
Jack Rose
Jack Rose
Melville Shavelson
Daniel L. Fapp
Leith Stevens
Composer (Music Score)
Hal Pereira
Art Director
Tambi Larsen
Art Director
Edith Head
Costume Designer
John P. Fulton
Special Effects