Arthur, a sheet music salesman, has an ear for the hit tunes, but nobody will trust it. And his imagination often bursts into full song, building musical numbers around the greatest ... See full summary »
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Arthur, a sheet music salesman, has an ear for the hit tunes, but nobody will trust it. And his imagination often bursts into full song, building musical numbers around the greatest frustrations in his life. He meets an innocent young school teacher, Eileen, who seems to hear the same music, but when Eileen learns that he's married, and that she's pregnant with his child, she runs away. Arthur gives up everything to find and protect her, but fate and the music haven't finished with Arthur Parker. Written by
The BBC original was composed of six episodes, each a bit over an hour long. Their titles are: 1: Down Sunny Side Lane 2: Love Is The Sweetest Thing 3: Easy Come, Easy Go 4: Better Think Twice 5: Painting The Clouds 6: Says My Heart See more »
Brilliantly evokes the hopes and despairs of humanity
Dennis Potter's PENNIES FROM HEAVEN is a masterpiece of both style and substance. It is a masterpiece of style in that it vividly conjures the look and atmosphere of mid 1930s England. This setting perfectly complements the original recordings of Depression era songs that emerge from the characters' mouths when they try to express themselves. It is a masterpiece of substance in that it is a riveting drama, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes poignant, sometimes both simultaneously.
PENNIES FROM HEAVEN dramatizes the trials and tribulations of Arthur Parker (Bob Hoskins), a song sheet salesman who unceasingly hopes the lyrics of the music he tries to peddle will become reality. It is a compelling story not only because of the novel use of lip synching to illustrate Parker's and the other characters' fantasies, but because of Potter's stark contrast between the songs' cheery lyrics and the characters' troubled lives. PENNIES also benefits from the cast's persuasive performances, especially Hoskins, Gemma Craven as his repressed wife Joan and Cheryl Campbell as a shy schoolteacher Arthur's infatuated with. One feels great empathy for the characters, even though they are flawed, because one can easily identify with their wishes and frustrations.
On one level, PENNIES FROM HEAVEN is a chilling cautionary tale- a warning that dreams of paradise are folly because life is cruel and hard. On another level, it is an inspiring story of hope- that even when life is at its most grim, we can always lift our spirits with those same dreams. Whatever message one may perceive, PENNIES FROM HEAVEN is thoroughly moving and absorbing, a testimony to the late Dennis Potter's genius.
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