8/10
Mr. Paradise, I play New Orleans style. You know, it's the newest thing. As a matter of fact I got an arrangement right here of the very number that you're doing.
20 September 2020
The Five Pennies is a musical biopic of jazz great Red Nichols, who is here played by Danny Kaye. As the famed Dixieland cornetist, he runs into opposition to his sound, but breaks through barriers to achieve success. Upon marrying an understanding patient woman (Barbara Bel Geddes) he begins to raise a family. But when tragedy strikes the family, "Red" puts down his horn to focus on matters of the heart.

Out of Paramount, The Five Pennies was released at a time when musical biopics were popular. Amazingly, as schmaltzy as the whole thing is on narrative terms, it's amazingly true to fact and and it pays to remember that when you think things are too sugary.

The music positively booms with joy, none more so than when the great Louis Armstrong is involved in duets with Red (the real Nichols playing). Tuesday Weld plays the teenage Nichols daughter and she is an utter delight, where she hits all the right emotional beats as the character progresses. Kaye is in his element, a perfect piece of casting, and Geddes is the embodiment of Americana wives of stoic firm and loyal beliefs.

It's a musical biopic that isn't afraid to show the main protag as a flawed individual, and that should be applauded. But as it happens, it's also a fine film all told, full of Dixieland verve and family values, and of course, the triumph of the will born about by pure love - both at home or through your art. 8/10
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