The Five Pennies is a semi-biographical 1959 film starring Danny Kaye as cornet player and bandleader Loring Red Nichols. Other cast members include Barbara Bel Geddes, Louis Armstrong, Harry Guardino, Bob Crosby, Bobby Troup, Susan Gordon, and Tuesday Weld. The film was directed by Melville Shavelson.

The Five Pennies
The Five Pennies.jpg
Directed byMelville Shavelson
Produced byJack Rose
Written byRobert Smith
Jack Rose
Melville Shavelson
StarringDanny Kaye
Barbara Bel Geddes
Louis Armstrong
Harry Guardino
Bob Crosby
Bobby Troup
Music byThorton W. Allen
Sylvia Fine
M.W. Sheafe
Leith Stevens
CinematographyDaniel L. Fapp
Edited byFrank P. Keller
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • June 18, 1959 (1959-06-18)
(New York)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[1]

The film received four Oscar nominations: Best Musical Scoring (Leith Stevens), Best Original Song (Sylvia Fine—Danny Kaye's wife), Best Cinematography (Daniel L. Fapp), and Best Costumes (Edith Head).

The real Red Nichols recorded all of Kaye's cornet playing for the film soundtrack. The other musicians in Red's band were not asked to provide their musical contributions, and the sound of his band was supplied by session players.[citation needed]


Red Nichols (Kaye) is a small-town cornet player who moves to New York City in the 1920s and finds work in a band led by Wil Paradise (Crosby). He meets and marries singer Willia Stutsman, a.k.a. "Bobbie Meredith" (Bel Geddes), and the two form their own Dixieland band called "The Five Pennies" (a play on Nichols' name, since a nickel equals five pennies). As their popularity peaks, their young daughter Dorothy (Susan Gordon) contracts polio, and the family leaves the music business, moving to Los Angeles.

As a teenager, Dorothy (Tuesday Weld) learns of her father's music career and persuades him go on a comeback tour. The tour borders on failure until several notable musicians from Nichols' past appear to save the day.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "1959: Probable Domestic Take". Variety. 6 January 1960. p. 34.

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