Penny Serenade (1941)

12 Angry Men
Edgar Buchanan, Cary Grant and Irene Dunne


'Penny Serenade' is a romantic melodrama made in 1941, directed by George Stevens and starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Beulah Bondi and Edgar Buchanan. For his performance, Cary Grant was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award, losing out to Gary Cooper in 'Sergeant York'.


The movie recounts in flashback the story of the marriage of Roger and Julie Adams, and their attempts to adopt a child. After they finally succeed, the child dies and the couple have to try to mend their shattered lives.


The plot is taken from a magazine story by Martha Cheavens and is a loose adaptation from an incident in the author's own life. Columbia paid $25,000 for the rights to the magazine story and hired Cheavens as a script consultant.

Director, George Stevens took great care in his use of popular songs marking the passage of time in the film. He made detailed charts to ensure that the appropriate music was matched to the proper time period. Stevens also had to avoid the legal problems involved in the use of babies in films. He used twins to play the infant Trina which doubled his ability to use the baby in shots, as California law forbade the use of babies for more than two hours per day.

'Penny Serenade' was Stevens' first picture after signing for Columbia and restrained touch prevented the movie from slipping into the overblown and maudlin.

The movie marked a change of direction for Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, both of whom were known for screwball comedy rather than tear-jerking melodrama. They had worked together previously in the highly successful romantic comedies 'The Awful Truth' in 1937 and 'My Favorite Wife' in 1940. Both perform well in their new roles. Providing solid support are Beulah Bondi, as Miss Oliver, the head of an adoption society, and Edgar Buchanan, as family friend Applejack. Later Buchanan became well known to TV audiences as Uncle Joe in 'Petticoat Junction'.

Main Cast

Irene Dunne ... Julie Gardiner Adams
Cary Grant ... Roger Adams
Beulah Bondi ... Miss Oliver
Edgar Buchanan ... Applejack Carney
Ann Doran ... Dotty "Dot"
Eva Lee Kuney ... Trina (6 years old)
Leonard Willey ... Doctor Hartley
Wallis Clark ... Judge
Walter Soderling ... Billings
Jane Biffle ... Trina


Producer/Director ... George Stevens
Screenplay … Morrie Ryskind
Based on … The story by Martha Cheavens
Cinematography … Joseph Walker
Music … W. Franke Harling
Production Company ... Columbia Pictures
Format … B & W
Release Date … April 24, 1941
Running Time … 119 minutes

Academy Awards

No Wins:
One Unsuccessful Nomination:
Best Actor ... Cary Grant