The Five Pennies

Watch The Five Pennies

  • Approved
  • 1959
  • 1 hr 57 min
  • 7.1  (2,073)

The Five Pennies is a 1959 musical drama film directed by Melville Shavelson and starring Danny Kaye, Barbara Bel Geddes, and jazz legend Louis Armstrong. The movie is loosely based on the life of jazz cornetist and bandleader Red Nichols. The film begins with Red Nichols (Danny Kaye) in the 1920s as a young man leaving his home in Utah to pursue his dream of becoming a musician in New York. With the help of his childhood friend Willa Stutsman (Barbara Bel Geddes), he lands a job playing in a nightclub band. However, his ambition to lead his own band ultimately leads him to leave the group and start his own.

Red's struggles to find success and balance his music career with his personal life are complicated by his growing family. Despite the economic hardships of the era, he is determined to provide for his wife and children, which results in him taking on multiple jobs in different bands. Meanwhile, his daughter Dorothy (Susan Gordon) is diagnosed with polio, which devastates the family.

As his career takes off, Red teams up with legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong (playing himself) and forms a successful band. However, his desire for success begins to take a toll on his health and his personal relationships. Red must come to terms with the sacrifices he has made and the impact they have had on his loved ones.

The Five Pennies is a poignant and emotional film that explores the complexity of family relationships and the toll that ambition can take. Danny Kaye delivers a powerful performance as the driven and flawed Red Nichols, showcasing his impressive range as both an actor and a musician. Barbara Bel Geddes is equally impressive as Willa, providing a stabilizing force in Red's life.

Louis Armstrong's appearance as himself is a highlight of the movie, adding an authenticity and depth to the story. In addition, the film features several memorable jazz performances, including Kaye's rendition of the titular song "The Five Pennies."

Despite being released over 60 years ago, The Five Pennies remains a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences today. Its moving story and memorable performances have cemented its place as one of the great musical dramas of all time.

The Five Pennies is a 1959 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 57 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1.

The Five Pennies
Where to Watch The Five Pennies
The Five Pennies is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Five Pennies for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 57 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (2,073)