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Love Conquers All

Penny Serenade (1941)
Penny Serenade - Cary Grant and Irene Dunne

WLRN's Classic Movie PENNY SERENADE starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. A woman on the verge of divorce recalls her heartbreaking attempts to adopt a child.


While listening to a recording of "Penny Serenade," Julie Gardiner Adams (Irene Dunne) begins reflecting on her past. She recalls her near-impulsive marriage to newspaper reporter Roger Adams (Cary Grant), which begins on a deliriously happy note but turns out to be fraught with tragedy. While honeymooning in Japan, Julie and Roger are trapped in the 1923 earthquake, which results in her miscarriage and subsequent incapability to bear children. Upon their return to America, Roger becomes editor of a small-town newspaper, just scraping by financially. Despite their depleted resources, Julie and Roger want desperately to adopt a child. It seems hopeless until kindly adoption agency head Miss Oliver (Beulah Bondi) helps smooth their path. Alas, their happiness is once more short-lived: their new daughter, Trina (Eva Lee Kuney), succumbs to a sudden illness at the age of six. Reduced to hopelessness, Julie and Roger decide to dissolve their marriage, but Miss Oliver once more comes to the rescue.


  • Irene Dunne often said that this was her favorite film because it reminded her of her own adopted daughter. However, in a letter to, at least, one fan she wrote that "Love Affair" (1939) was the top favorite of all her films.
  • Third of three movies that paired Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, following The Awful Truth (1937) and My Favorite Wife (1940). In all three, they played spouses.
  • In real life, Cary Grant wouldn't become a parent until 1966 when he was 62.