5/9/13: Penny Serenade

“When a couple doesn’t need one other anymore…when that happens to two people, there’s nothing left.”



George Stevens’ romantic tragedy Penny Serenade takes us from the early ‘20’s into The Depression. It stars Cary Grant & Irene Dunne as Roger & Julie Adams in their third & final film together. This is a different sort of a role for Cary, who was usually either a debonair spy type when working for Hitchcock or a romantic comedy heartthrob. This stunning performance earned him one of his two Academy Award nominations, both for Best Actor. Although he didn’t win on either occasion, he was granted an Honorary Academy Award in 1970 at 42nd Oscars. Ms. Dunne never won an Academy Award either, despite her 5 Best Actress nominations.  

Penny - StarsPenny - Notorious

As Penny Serenade opens, Roger is taken watching Julie through the music store front window in which she works. Although he doesn’t own a Victrola, he buys a stack of records in order to meet her. The story is told as chapters through Julie’s recollection of events as she replays records from their extensive collection. Beulah Bondi is extraordinary as the adoption agent, Miss Oliver. And Edgar Buchanan, who 22 years later would play “Uncle Joe, he’s a-movin’ kinda slow at the Junction: Petticoat Junction”, is great as Roger & Julie’s best friend Applejack. The cast is masterfully handled by 3 time Academy Award Winner George Stevens.  

Penny - Records Penny - Chapters

Penny - Uncle Joe Penny - OliverPenny - Stevens

As I said, Cary Grant is best remembered as a secret agent type. In fact, Ian Fleming modeled James Bond after him. Although Cary is considered one of the most handsome actors ever (and I should know since I look just like him), he had only 1 front tooth. He was one of the more vocal detractors of Method Acting: A highly acknowledged & widely used process created by Russian stage actor & director Constantin Stanislavski, then refined & propagated by acting instructor Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II). With The Method, the actor becomes the character in all aspects of his life, not just while rehearsing & filming. Famous proponents of The Method include Marlon Brando, Joaquin Phoenix, Daniel Day-Lewis & Dustin Hoffman. Day-Lewis made everyone including his family call him Mr. President or Mr. Lincoln during Lincoln. And Hoffman deprived himself of sleep for 3 days to experience the psychological trauma of his character, Babe, in Marathon Man. His co-star, Sir Laurence Olivier, who hated The Method, on seeing Hoffman’s resultant physical condition purportedly told him, “Try acting, dear boy!”.  

Penny - ToothPenny - StanislavskiPenny - RothPenny - LincolnPenny - Marathon

So, click the link below,wait 5 seconds & bypass the ad, then watch a tremendous performance by anti-Method actor Cary Grant as Roger Adams, and Irene Dunne as his loving wife [impersonating Cary Grant] “Julie, Julie, Julie” in George Stevens’ Penny Serenade. 4 Stars!!


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