Penny Serenade is a 1941) film melodrama starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Beulah Bondi, and Edgar Buchanan. It was directed by George Stevens and written by Martha Cheavens and Morrie Ryskind. It 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.
While listening to a recording of "Penny Serenade," Julie Gardiner Adams (Irene Dunne) begins reflecting on her past. Roger (Cary Grant) and Julie Adams suffer a tragedy when she miscarries in an earthquake during their trip to Japan. 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 loses his job. When the little girl dies suddenly, the emotional strain threatens to destroy their marriage. Songs mark episodes in the action from records from their collection—the title refers 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.
The part of Trina was played by two pairs of identical twins at different ages.
Time 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), it is too often a moving picture which does not move. Skillful direction saves it from turning maudlin." 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. Noel Coward once drily observed how extraordinarily potent cheap music is. That is certainly true of Penny Serenade.
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