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Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)

Jack Webb , Janet Leigh , Jack Webb  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Webb, Janet Leigh, Andy Devine, Herbert Ellis, Nick Fatool
  • Directors: Jack Webb
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2008
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JL2Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,006 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pete Kelly's Blues" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Oscar-nominated short Gadgets Galore
  • Classic cartoon The Hole Idea

Editorial Reviews

A Kansas City singer and his jazz band bow down to pressure from a local gangster and take on the thug's alcoholic girlfriend as a singer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 50's Icon December 4, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I've loved this movie since it's release. Peggy Lee is the greatest lady pop/jazz singer of the mid 20th Century, and she gets into the 1920's mode as if it were a svelte gown. Her renditions are immaculate, as we always expect them to be, but less expected is her portrayal of the exploited artist in the speakeasies. She chews up the scenery, and stands tastefully right in between Jack Webb's unemotiveness and Edmund O'Brien's ham. An interesting contrast movie of about the same year which allows O'Brien to roast his ham with color is "The Girl Can't Help It", a rock and roll movie starring Jane Mansfield, and featuring the entertainers of the hour, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, et alia. The cast of "Pete Kelly's Blues" also includes young Lee Marvin and Martin Milner as sidemen in Pete Kelly's band. The best song in the flick is the cameo by Ella Fitzgerald, of whom we would wish to see and hear more, if only her part was bigger in the script. A nice evocation and snapshot, if symbolic, of the world of Bix and Bing, Ruth Etting and Moe the Gimp.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All that love of jazz July 23, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Jack Webb loved jazz and the jazz age. That comes through loud and clear in Pete Kelly's Blues. I liked this movie immensely because it's a labor of love. Despite it's flaws (Jack Webb tends to be stiff at times) the movie works and works well. Meticulous attention to detail, Peggy Lee in a dramatic role as well as her glorious singing, Andy Devine as a cop along with the great Ella Fitzgerald and some of the best jazz music ever recorded plus a strong supporting cast, make this movie well worth savoring again and again.

Charles Albrecht
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars C'mon Warners, GIVE! June 26, 2007
By TeeBee
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Given that this has already been remastered in letterbox/stereo for Laserdisc, why isn't this available on DVD? Webb loved 20s jazz and that is reflected in the terrific soundtrack and meticulous attention to period detail in every frame (wonderful Cinemascope production design!). Ella sings as only she can and acts as only she couldn't; Peggy Lee's heartbreaking performance as a torch singer on the skids was rightfully nominated for an Oscar (and oh yeah - "she sings"). This was one of the ten top-grossers of 1955, just behind "East of Eden," and its not available ten years into the DVD era?!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American midwest roadhouse heaven November 28, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Jack's the greatest. If you are not an American, Jack's your American icon, circa 1955. And you can't really argue with his friends Peggy Lee, Ella, and Miff Mole (it's his band that's featured). Other viewers and critics remark upon the versimiltude, but this misses the point; Jack captures the jazz myth. I don't care if this is the way it was; it's enough--more than enough--that this is the way I imagined it was. Jack reached into my imagination and put a part of it on screen. Wow-ow!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just viewed this and it is indeed widescreen July 26, 2008
I had never heard of this film before, but I knew I wanted a DVD copy of "Blues in the Night", so I went ahead and ordered this one too. I had been hearing the rumors that it was fullscreen, but when I saw it advertised on TCM they showed a widescreen clip, so I took a chance.

Rest assured, it is indeed widescreen. It sounds great, and it looks great with a couple of numbers by Ella Fitzgerald. However, this is not anything close to a musical. Rather it is a 20's gangster tale that involves Pete Kelly (Jack Webb) and his band. For those of you who remember Dragnet, Webb's narration might have you thinking of Dragnet just a little too much. Webb also directed this film, and he did a great job of giving it a real 20's feel. You don't feel like you're looking at a bunch of people from the 50's dressed up for a 20's costume party.

The only thing bad I can say about it is I had a hard time figuring out Pete Kelly's motivation. A person close to him is killed, and he is ready to give in to the gangster responsible and forget the whole thing ever happened. He finds out another person he barely knows has been killed by the same gangster and he's ready for war. He tosses an eager and beautiful Janet Leigh out of his room in one scene, and in the next scene he's overjoyed to see her to the point of wanting to marry her. The clinical acting style that worked so well for Webb in Dragnet just left me a little confused here. Still, overall, I would recommend it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just the sax, ma'am, just the sax. May 2, 2008
Pete Kelly's Blues is everything people used to go to the movies for - a great cast speaking great dialogue in a good story imaginatively told and well paced without a single dull moment (this is one of the few films where the screenplay is credited above the title, and it certainly earns it). Great music, too.

Pete Kelly (Jack Webb) is a hard-bitten jazzman in the Bogart mode, albeit with the added and very visually striking ability to walk without moving his arms. We know that there's a heart of gold under his stone-face because he keeps a bird in his apartment, but he's having none of it: "I'm nice to him because I may get hungry some day and have to eat him. In the meantime, he can hit G above C so I keep him around."

Set in the Prohibition era when musicians were thrown out of hotels because they had an instrument case ("If it had been a machine gun it would have been alright"), Kelly's Big Seven soon find themselves the latest clients of Edmond O'Brien at his meanest ("They say you got rubber pockets so you can steal soup"), a violent racketeer who is moving into the agent business. His first act as their representative is to kill one of the band and add a singer to the lineup - an Oscar-nominated Peggy Lee as his alcoholic girlfriend who ends up in the asylum - making Joe Esterhaus' infamous complaints about Michael Ovitz pale into insignificance.

And that's all without his difficult romance with society dame Janet Leigh - she wants to be married before she's so old that the rice knocks her down, but he thinks they're incompatible because he doesn't know where his next meal's coming from and she doesn't know where her next country's coming from. Add endlessly quotable dialogue ("Rudy's a puny little guy - sew an extra button on his vest he'd fall down.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 5 days ago by old smoothie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
No issues
Published 18 days ago by Sharon McElroy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Arrived in excellent condition!
Published 2 months ago by Madeline Dixon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good service and good movie with good music.
Published 2 months ago by John T. Griffin
4.0 out of 5 stars pete Kelly's Blues
This was one of my husband's all time greats which I had never seen. Although the story line was obviously dated, the songs and vocal performances more than made up for it, so we... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Val.L.E
4.0 out of 5 stars Pete Kelly's Blues - 1955
Pete Kelly's Blues is an entertaining film directed by and starring Jack Webb, of "Dragnet" fame. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Chris B
3.0 out of 5 stars PETE KELLY'S BLUES-3 STARS
Have long wanted to see this picture.Great music and wonderful sets. The DVD is flawless and the sound is wonderful.!Thank You. A post script:Why not 4 stars? Read more
Published 8 months ago by Richard Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Great music..grand cast..a sleeper.
Although I only wanted a VHS copy, it was fine, as I wanted to see this movie one more time. JACK WEBB did this one in color spending more money then the others he produced. Read more
Published 9 months ago by J.Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Great music
Any movie that features performances by both Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald has to be worth watching regardless of any other content. Read more
Published 11 months ago by david erickson
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic film
A good story well acted. If you were a fan of Dragnet, you will love this movie. Peggy Lee is awesome.
Published 12 months ago by Robert W. Carriveau
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DVD release
I'm with you !!! I don't have a VHS, either.
Geri in Jacksonville FL.
Jul 29, 2006 by D. Tamburello |  See all 5 posts
english subtitles Be the first to reply
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