6.7/10
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18 user 10 critic

Pennies from Heaven (1936)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Musical | 25 November 1936 (USA)
Larry Poole, in prison on a false charge, promise an inmate that when he gets out he will look up and help out a family. The family turns out to be a young girl, Patsy Smith, and her ... See full summary »

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Writers:

(novel) (as Katharine Leslie Moore), (story) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Susan Sprague
...
Patsy Smith
...
Henry
...
Gramp Smith
...
J. C. Hart
William Stack ...
Clarence B. Carmichael
...
Miss Howard
...
Crowbar Miller (as Tommy Dugan)
...
Slavey - Hotel Maid
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
William Byrne ...
Boy (as Billy Byrne uncredited)
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Storyline

Larry Poole, in prison on a false charge, promise an inmate that when he gets out he will look up and help out a family. The family turns out to be a young girl, Patsy Smith, and her elderly grandfather who need lots of help. This delays Larry from following his dream and going to Venice and becoming a gondolier. Instead he becomes a street singer and, while singing in the street, meets a pretty welfare worker, Susan Sprague. She takes a dim view of Patsy's welfare under the guardianship of Larry and her grandfather, and starts proceedings to have Patsy placed in an orphanage. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

FUN...when Crosby croons himself out of jail and lands on a merry-go-round with the meanest of brats! (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Musical

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 November 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dinero del cielo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Louis Armstrong was hired for this movie at Bing Crosby's insistence. Crosby also insisted that Armstrong receive prominent billing, the first time a black actor shared top billing with white actors in a major release film. See more »

Quotes

J. C. Hart: The Chaplain tells me you're due out of here next week. Where do you aim to go?
Larry Poole: Well, it depends on the wind. You see, with me, when I leave a place I get myself a feather and toss it up and which ever way the wind blows, well, that's were I go.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Founder (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Skeleton in the Closet
(1936)
Music by Arthur Johnston
Lyrics by Johnny Burke
Performed by Louis Armstrong with Louis Armstrong and His Band
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Townsend Plan
8 April 2004 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Bing Crosby was loaned out from Paramount to Columbia for this film and Columbia did no better for him in the way of budget than Paramount. Again relying on Crosby's personality to bring in the box office, if anything Columbia probably spent less money than Paramount on his films.

What they did do was give Crosby a good supporting cast, a role tailor- made for him and a good score of tunes to sing, topped by one of his immortal hits, the title tune Pennies from Heaven. This was the second of 15 movie songs introduced by Bing that were nominated for the Academy Award as best song when that award actually meant something.

Crosby's Larry Poole is a more delineated character than most of the ones he did in the 1930s. He's asked by a prisoner who's on death row to look up the family of a man he murdered and give them the key to an old house that the prisoner owned. He meets up with the family which consists of juvenile Edith Fellows and grandfather Donald Meek. He also tangles with social worker Madge Evans, but in the end all his righted.

In the real world I can't believe that civil servant Evans would ever take up with a vagabond character like Larry Poole, definitely not in this day and age. But if he's played by Bing Crosby, well.........

The film has one other interesting feature. Donald Meek mentions to Crosby a few times that while he's down on his luck now, he expects to come into a regular source of income soon. Finally Bing asks just what is this expected windfall and Meek replies, "The Townsend Plan."

Today's audience would not get that dated bit of humor, but the Townsend Plan was the brainstorm of a Doctor Francis Townsend who was a retired physician who came up with a scheme in which the elderly were to be paid in scrip (in other words money that had to be spent) and then that money would be taxed through the sales which would in turn pay for another month's scrip and so on and so on. At the time of the filming of Pennies from Heaven this plan had a lot of followers in the country which was in a depression.

Of course Townsend never got his plan passed, but a lot of historians credit him with raising such a fuss over what we did with our elderly that the result was Social Security.

One of Bing's best.


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