Penny Serenade (1941) Vintage Review
Penny Serenade is a lovely story of romance, family and struggling onward despite everything. It is a Silver Screen Classic starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.
Julie and Roger are a young married couple who are thinking of separating. As she waits for a taxi she begins to play records that are important to their relationship. This is fitting, seeing as they meet because of a scratched record. She remembers all the major events that brought them closer then drove them apart. She finally begins to wonder whether they are making the right decision after all.
Penny Serenade is a sweet old film which doesn’t seem to get nearly as much attention as it deserves. The film’s technical quality isn’t very good in some places but that’s just due to age. Other than a few slow scenes, that is really the film’s only failing.
The film strikes a competent balance between humor, joy and tragedy while never overdoing the melodrama. The comedy is laugh-out-loud in places and the sadder moments can be truly heart-breaking. There is a very funny sequence after they first bring their daughter home where the new parents try desperately to figure out what to do. There are lots of sweet moments like that. It is a very real story of two people enduring life’s ups and downs together.
The acting from all parties is excellent and extremely moving at times. There is one scene where Cary Grant is pleading with a judge, that is guaranteed to make you tear up. You really care for the young couple and their daughter Trina. Everyone is so incredibly likable. Edgar Buchanan is also wonderful as the charming family friend character, Applejack, who has a few tricks up his sleeve.
While the love story was well acted and completely believable, I felt it lacked that spark that comes from great chemistry between actors. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne did well together and perhaps this is just me being used to more banter between a leading romantic couple. But this is not that kind of film, it is not a farce, it is a realistic film about real people and a good one too. I’ve heard good things about the other two films they did together so it may just be due to the material.
Overall, Penny Serenade is a roller coaster of emotion with a cathartic combination of laughter and tears which any fan of the Silver Screen will appreciate.
Photo Credit: GMVS Limited/ Columbia Pictures
Content Note: There is no explicit content in this film.
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