IMDb > Pennies from Heaven (1936)
Pennies from Heaven
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Pennies from Heaven (1936) More at IMDbPro »


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Release Date:
25 November 1936 (USA) See more »
LAUGHS...wen a vagabond troubadour yearns for a gondola in Venice and gets a rowboat in Central Park (original poster) See more »
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... See more » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. See more »
User Reviews:
Drifting Along in Song See more (15 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Bing Crosby ... Larry Poole

Madge Evans ... Susan Sprague
Edith Fellows ... Patsy Smith

Louis Armstrong ... Henry

Donald Meek ... Gramp Smith
John Gallaudet ... J. C. Hart
William Stack ... Clarence B. Carmichael
Nana Bryant ... Miss Howard
Tom Dugan ... Crowbar Miller (as Tommy Dugan)
Nydia Westman ... Slavey - Hotel Maid
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
William Byrne ... Boy (as Billy Byrne uncredited)
Eugene Anderson Jr. ... Boy (uncredited)
William Anderson ... Western Union Messenger (uncredited)
Stanley Andrews ... Detective Stephens (uncredited)
Frank Austin ... Old Man (uncredited)
Jimmy Barnes ... Boy (uncredited)
Georgie Billings ... Boy (uncredited)
Stanley Blystone ... Detective Gilroy (uncredited)
Jackie Butler ... Boy (uncredited)
Bobby Callahan ... Boy (uncredited)
George Chandler ... Waiter (uncredited)

Mickey Daniels ... Hay Wagon Driver (uncredited)
Frank Darien ... Chicken Farmer (uncredited)
Harry Depp ... Union Costume Supply Man (uncredited)
Helen Dickson ... Nightclub Table Extra (uncredited)

Billy Dooley ... W.F. Arbuthnot (uncredited)
Budd Fine ... Prison Guard (uncredited)
Lionel Hampton ... Band Member (uncredited)
Howard C. Hickman ... Chaplain (uncredited)
Harry Hollingsworth ... Prison Guard (uncredited)
Arthur Hoyt ... Collector of Taxes (uncredited)
Sheldon Jett ... Nightclub / Dance Extra (uncredited)
Tiny Jones ... Little Woman at Window (uncredited)
Lew Kelly ... Sheriff (uncredited)
Gus Leonard ... Nightclub Attendee (uncredited)
Jack Lindquist ... Boy (uncredited)
Louis Armstrong and His Band ... Musicians (uncredited)
Margaret Mann ... White-Haired Woman (uncredited)
Martha Manor ... Little Orphan Girl (uncredited)
Edward Peil Sr. ... Old Man (uncredited)
Russ Powell ... Coin Tosser (uncredited)
Syd Saylor ... Sign Painter (uncredited)
Anne Schaefer ... Lady (uncredited)
Brick Sullivan ... Smiling Cop in Central Park (uncredited)
Harry Tyler ... Carnival Concessionaire (uncredited)
Dorothy Vernon ... Restaurant Patron (uncredited)
Morgan Wallace ... Restaurant Partner (uncredited)
Charles C. Wilson ... Warden (uncredited)

Directed by
Norman Z. McLeod 
Writing credits
Katherine Leslie Moore (novel "The Peacock Feather") (as Katharine Leslie Moore)

William Rankin (story)

Jo Swerling (screenplay)

Produced by
Emanuel Cohen .... producer
Original Music by
William Grant Still (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Robert Pittack (photographed by)
Film Editing by
John Rawlins 
Art Direction by
Stephen Goosson 
Makeup Department
Robert J. Schiffer .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Earl Rettig .... unit manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Sam Nelson .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
Glenn Rominger .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Music Department
George Stoll .... musical director
John Scott Trotter .... music arranger
Howard Jackson .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Louis Silvers .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Other crew
Norman Blackburn .... technical advisor
Harry Cohn .... president: Columbia Pictures Corporation of California Ltd.
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
81 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Argentina:Atp | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:Approved (PCA #2402) | USA:TV-G (TV rating)

Did You Know?

Several cast members in studio records/casting call lists did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie. These were (with their character names): Richard Carle (Mr. Briggs), Eddie Borden (Mr. Bilkins), Maston Williams (Prisoner) and Nick Copeland (Middle-aged Man). Reviews list Tom Ricketts in the role of Mr. Briggs. but he was not seen in movie either.See more »
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 »
Movie Connections:
Pennies From HeavenSee more »


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17 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
Drifting Along in Song, 6 July 2002
Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (Columbia, 1936), directed by Norman Z. McLeod, no relation to the 1981 musical of that same title featuring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters, stars Bing Crosby, on loan from his home studio of Paramount, in a forgettable but likable story with a notable title tune that underscores the film opening credits, presenting pennies falling from the thundering clouds above bouncing to the wet ground below. Crosby's character of Larry Poole is a drifter who lives a day-to-day existence tossing a feather into the air and heading the direction where the feather goes. He also passes the time singing by songs with the use of a 13th century flute, an instrument occasionally mistaken for a guitar. His biggest dream in life is to go to Venice, Italy, and ride on the gondolas, which, at present, seems unlikely.

In the story's fade-in, Larry, serving time in prison on a supposed smuggling charge, with one more week to go before his released, is met by a man Hart (John Gallaudet), a condemned prisoner on his way to the electric chair to die for his crime, who wants Poole, the only man he trusts, to deliver a letter to a family named Smith of Middletown, New Jersey, and explains his reasons. After Poole grants him this last request, Hart is then escorted down his last mile through the green doors. Following this dramatic scene opener, quite unusual for a musical-comedy, finds the pardoned Larry drifting along to a carnival where he encounters a pre-teen but tough little girl (Edith Fellows) being cheated at a game booth by a slick barker (who charges a dime for a throw of six rings). Larry helps her to win her prize by letting her know how she's getting cheated and threatens the carnival barker that there will be a loud call of "Hey, rube!" if he doesn't come up with the prize. The girl in turn gets it. Larry then tells her, "Thank the nice man." Girl to barker: "Thank you ... YOU CROOK!" After making the acquaintance with Patsy and later her grandfather (Donald Meek), who are flat broke and in financial need, and learning that their last name is Smith, Larry finds that they are the Smiths he's been searching for. He then presents them with the letter in question. It is learned that Hart's last request was that the family of the man he killed (Patsy's father) should inherit a large country estate that once belonged to his family. Upon arrival to the old mansion via hayride, they have second thoughts when finding the run-down mansion might possibly be haunted. With the help of the positive-thinking Larry, he happens upon an idea of turning the old place into a roadside restaurant called the Haunted House Cafe. The second half of the story focuses on Susan Sprague (Madge Evans), a county welfare agent, who feels Patsy, an incorrigible child who has been skipping school, isn't being brought up in the right atmosphere, especially when Patsy is bonding with a man who had spent time in prison, thus, threatening to take her away.

Aside from Crosby's easy-going personality and his easy-listening crooning, Madge Evans' blonde beauty and Edith Fellows' temper tantrums controlled only by Crosby, whose "taming of the shrew" is through his singing, the supporting cast also features a very young Louis Armstrong as Henry, the hired hand, trumpeter and vocalist of the Haunted House Cafe; Nana Bryant as Mrs. Howard; Charles C. Wilson as the Warden; and character actress Nydia Westman appearing briefly as the landlady.

Nice tunes, compliments of songwriters Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston include: "So Do I" (sung by Bing Crosby); "Pennies From Heaven" (sung by Crosby to Edith Fellows during a thunder storm); "Skeleton in the Closet" (sung by Louis Armstrong); "Let's Call a Heart a Heart" (sung by Crosby to Madge Evans); "Pennies From Heaven" (reprise); "One, Two, Button My Shoe" (sung by Crosby and orphan children); "So Do I" and "One, Two, Button My Shoe" (reprise/finale).

As in most Crosby musicals of the 1930s and '40s, PENNIES FROM HEAVEN is a likable production no different from the movies he has done over at his home studio at Paramount. Along with the film, young Edith Fellows, who resembles a youthful Jane Powell, in a performance that could have been played by another registered movie "brat" named Bonita Granville, is as forgotten as this movie itself. PENNIES FROM HEAVEN will go on record as her best known film work, for that her subsequent features, mostly for Columbia, have been minor programmers that remain hidden in the land of oblivion. Her chemistry with Crosby registers well here. Aside from the screen characters, the movie includes some interesting camera angles worth mentioning. One that stands in mind is the introductory scene between Crosby and Fellows as they are leaving the carnival. After she asks him what his name is, the camera focuses to the girl's point of eye-view from the bottom up as Crosby's character, appearing quite taller, looks down and answers her question. A similar such scene occurs later as Crosby sings to the tune of "So Do I" while Fellows does some street dancing to earn some extra money as the tenement people throw some loose change from their apartment windows above. While there are enough good songs to go around, only "Pennies from Heaven" remains legendary, earning an Academy Award nomination as Best Song of 1936, losing to "The Way You Look Tonight" from SWING TIME (1936).

Available on DVD and shown on Turner Classic Movies where it premiered December 5, 2005, PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, which which runs 81 minutes, is worthy screen entertainment made palatable by its good songs and fine supporting cast. (***)

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