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Pete Kelly's Blues

Released Jul 31, 1955 1h 35m Musical List
60% Tomatometer 5 Reviews 42% Audience Score 100+ Ratings
A bootlegger (Edmond O'Brien) strong-arms a jazz cornetist (Jack Webb) and his combo at a 1920s Kansas City speakeasy. Read More Read Less
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Critics Reviews

View All (5) Critics Reviews
Howard Thompson New York Times Pete Kelly's Blues is an incredible waste of tantalizing music and decor designed for the sole purpose of letting Jack Webb strut his stuff almost exactly as before. Aug 8, 2006 Full Review Francois Truffaut Arts (France) Jack Webb is a filmmaker who is more skillful than gifted, more sincere than brilliant, more likeable than prestigious. Which is to say that his film is nice to see. May 10, 2022 Full Review Clyde Gilmour Maclean's Magazine Jazz fans, except the ultra-cool school, will enjoy the music, and the film is well worth seeing as well as hearing in spite of several contrived and incoherent touches. With Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee. Oct 21, 2019 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews Tedious but well-photographed atmospheric jazz pic from the Prohibition era. Rated: C+ Jul 15, 2015 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Like Love Me or Leave Me, also made in 1955, Webb's film is set in the golden age of Prohibition, mixing crime-gangster drama with great jazz music by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee, who received a Supporting Oscar nomination. Rated: B- Dec 29, 2007 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (23) audience reviews
Red T There really isn't anything broken or bad about this. Editing, pacing, acting is all ok and the cinematography is decent. The main issue is this tries to be a noir & a musical at the same time and it never really works well together. The music is ok enough but half of them don't have lyrics and the jazz numbers just blend in really. Ella's songs are pretty good but Leigh's is the best one. It's a shame she only gets one number and the dancing, colors, lyrics never really pop for most of this or are catchy at all. This has the complex plot and sharp dialouge of a noir but it never really looks like one. The camerawork is basic, this isn't moody or atmospheric at all, and the characters (aside from Leigh who is solid) are all just forgettable including Pete. He is wooden, emotionless, and doesn't have the charisma of a Glenn Ford or Mitchum to get away with that well or much chemistry with Leigh. This needed to have a better director who could give this more style. Make it black and white with shadows & smoke, catchier numbers with lyrics, better camerawork, and a better lead man. It's ok enough but this is something that should be remade someday. There is potential here but as is its forgettable. Skip it. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 09/19/23 Full Review Audience Member A pretty disappointing film that started off well but just became confusing and ended very abruptly. The main character, Pete Kelly, is a pretty boring character, he reluctantly agrees to work for this mob boss after he suspects his friend is killed by another gangster. The music is the best part of the film. However, it doesn't make up for some stilted acting, weird pacing and a needlessly over complicated plot. Pete Kelly wants to find evidence for his friend's murder so he goes to the mob boss's office but his fiancée wants to have a dance with him, then the gangsters show up, the mob boss is weirdly killed by one of his own men and then Pete and his fiancée leave and have good ol' sing and dance. Just a rushed and ridiculous ending. Peggy Lee was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the abused mob boss's girlfriend and she did an alright job. However, she was not as good as the Oscar winner Jo Van Fleet in East of Eden (a good but not great film). Overall, a film that started off with potential but became lost in the mix of some pretty good Jazz music. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/11/23 Full Review steve d There is extremely little story here. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member Evocative production directed by and starring Jack Webb; singer Peggy Lee copped on Oscar nomination for her portrayal of an alcoholic singer and Ella Fitzgerald sings two songs, including the title tune. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Audience Member Jack Webb directs and stars as the titular character, up against the wall during Prohibition when a gangster decides that he's going to muscle all the local musical acts for part of their pay and call himself their manager. It's well worth a look, and surprised me by being a color film, as I was expecting clack and white, given its age. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/07/23 Full Review Audience Member The production design has a high degree of 1920s verisimilitude. The sight gags and tough-guy repartee still have legs. Jack Webb bears comparison with Bogie. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/22/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Pete Kelly's Blues

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Movie Info

Synopsis A bootlegger (Edmond O'Brien) strong-arms a jazz cornetist (Jack Webb) and his combo at a 1920s Kansas City speakeasy.
Director
Jack Webb
Producer
Jack Webb
Screenwriter
Richard L. Breen
Distributor
Warner Bros. Pictures
Production Co
Mark VII Ltd.
Genre
Musical
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Jul 31, 1955, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Sep 1, 2009
Runtime
1h 35m
Sound Mix
Stereo
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