Adapted from a "McCall's" magazine-novel, "Penny Serenade" comes to the movie public with "for women only" stamped all over it. About the most inspiring scene in two hours of tortuous tear-jerking, is the sight of Cary Grant anxiously pacing the midnight floor with his sobbing baby.
Attempting to prove the maxim that children make the difference between successful and unsuccessful marriages, the film degenerates into a maudlin, slow-moving Hollywood case-history, which never seems to end. Cary Grant admirably performs the transition from slap-happy reporter to weeping father; and Irene Dunne--neither young nor undulating as she used to be--is passable as the sentimental mother.
The failure of this movie is largely the fault of bad direction. George Stevens has completely overdone the flashback mechanism, and his use of popular songs, to recall the associations through which the story unfolds, is too facile and backend to be excused.
Both for entertainment value and artistic achievement, "The Trial of Mary Dugan" is by far a superior movie. Robert Young and Laraine Day are superb as lawyer and suspect respectively, in a production that mixes love, mystery and a murder-trial in excellent proportions. Aided by fine dialogue and skilled direction, this picture clearly contrasts the glaring defects of "Penny Serenade."