Penny Serenade

40. PENNY SERENADE (1941-USA). WITH cary grant, irene dunne, beulah bondi, edcar BUCHANAN. Produced and directed by GEORGE STEVENS. This is an old-fashioned melodrama, with one crisis or tragedy piled on top Of another. Penny Serenade is written with such honesty and sophistication, directed so skillfully and acted with such brilliance that it transcends mere soap opera. The movie is built around a series Of poignant and humorous memories. About to break up with her husband, a woman packing her belongings stops long enough to play her favorite phonograph records-each song reminding her Of an important event in their relationship. Flashbacks show their meeting and engagement; her miscarriage and subsequent inability to bear children; their adoption Of a baby, who dies after a brief illness at age six; the husband’s inability to cope, leading to their separation. They finally reconcile, with the adoption Of a new baby cementing their relationship. Among the many memorable scenes, you will especially treasure the wife’s unsuccessful attempt to bathe the baby (shown in a delightful long take) and the husband’s successful plea before a judge to allow them to keep their baby despite temporary poverty. That tearful courtroom scene is one Of Cary Grant’s finest moments ever, and it alone earned him his Oscar nomination (one Of only two he received in his entire career). Irene Dunne is vibrant and endearing, as always; and when it comes to supporting players, you can’t find any better than the veterans Beulah Bondi and Edgar Buchanan. Life’s joys and heartaches-captured in a warm, moving, expertly crafted Hollywood classic. 118 minutes. Drama