While listening to a recording of "Penny Serenade," Irene Dunne begins reflecting on her past. She recalls her near-impulsive marriage to newspaper reporter Cary Grant, which begins on a deliriously happy note but which turns out to be fraught with tragedy. While honeymooning in Japan, Dunne and Grant are trapped in the 1923 earthquake, which results in her miscarriage and subsequent incapability to bear children. Upon their return to America, Grant becomes editor of a small-town newspaper, just scraping by financially. Despite their depleted resources, Dunne and Grant want desperately to adopt a child. It seems hopeless until kindly adoptation agency head Beulah Bondi helps smooth their path. Alas, their happiness is once more shortlived: their new daughter, Eva Lee Kuney, succumbs to a sudden illness at the age of 6. Reduced to hopelessness, Dunne and Grant decide to dissolve their marriage, but Bondi once more comes to the rescue. Sentimental in the extreme, Penny Serenade is also enormously effective, balancing moments of heartbreaking pathos with uproarious laughter. Only director George Stevens could have handled a scene with a copiously weeping Cary Grant without inducing discomfort or embarrassment in the audience. Since lapsing into public domain in 1968 (though released by Columbia, the film was owned by Stevens' production firm), Penny Serenade has become almost as ubiquitous a cable-TV presence as It's a Wonderful Life.