Pennies from Heaven (1981)

R  |   |  Drama, Musical, Romance  |  1 January 1982 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 4,110 users  
Reviews: 56 user | 38 critic

During the Great Depression, a sheet music salesman seeks to escape his dreary life through popular music and a love affair with an innocent school teacher.



(written for the screen: based on original material by)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vernel Bagneris ...
The Detective
Jay Garner ...
Robert Fitch ...
Eliska Krupka ...
The Blind Girl
The Bartender (as Frank McCarthy)
Raleigh Bond ...
Gloria LeRoy ...
A Prostitute (as Gloria Leroy)
Nancy Parsons ...
The Old Whore


In Chicago during the 1930s depression, sheet music salesman Arthur Parker is trying to sell his products, but it's not easy to convince unwilling music store owners to buy them. Although he's already married to the somewhat drab Joan, when he meets school teacher Eileen in a music store, he falls in love with her. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There's a world on both sides of the rainbow where songs come true and every time it rains, it rains...


Drama | Musical | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 January 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dinheiro do Céu  »

Box Office


$22,000,000 (estimated)


$3,600,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


("Follow the Fleet" dream sequence)| (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Considered the last big MGM musical of the old Hollywood era and tradition. See more »


In the classroom, a modern Canadian flag can be seen. It wasn't designed until 1964. See more »


[first lines]
Arthur Parker: Joan... Joanie? Sugar? C'mon, Joan... sugar... wake up, baby.
Joan Parker: No, Arthur, don't.
Arthur Parker: Oh, baby... come on, sugar.
Joan Parker: No, it's too early, Arthur.
Arthur Parker: Oh, Joan.
Joan Parker: Arthur, there isn't time.
Arthur Parker: Oh, there's always time for this. Joan, come on.
Joan Parker: Stop it, Arthur! No, don't!
Joan Parker: [getting out of bed] No... I said no!
See more »


Featured in 20 to 1: Amazing Moments in Music (2007) See more »


It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
Written by Billy Mayhew (uncredited)
Performed by Dolly Dawn with George Hall and His Orchestra
Courtesy of RCA Records
Mimed onscreen by Jessica Harper (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Diamond in the rough
23 June 2003 | by (San Francisco, California) – See all my reviews

If you are truly interested in seeing this film, please read the review written by Pauline Kael, who with her unique voice, says everything I am about to try to say, perfectly. This may not be a movie for everybody. First, you may have to have some patience for musicals. And secondly, you may have to have patience for complex people and their problems. I have watched this movie with two friends, and the first yawned everytime the actors opened their mouths to lip sync the beautiful and strange Depression era songs. The second found the role played by Steve Martin heartbreaking, and could not watch the entire film. But I think this movie can be extremely rewarding, and have found myself watching it a least once a year for the past few years. I think the Depression makes an excellent back round in this bittersweet story of blind optimism, and this movie greatly inspires my imagination. I imagine the whole U.S. as it was in the early part of the century, filled with millions of dreamers, greedy for sex and love and money, just like people are now, only now most people have a shot at a least one of those things, and during the depression, beautiful and hopelessly empty dreams were everywhere, as poverty crushed lives right and left. Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters are as connected and magical together as they are in the Jerk. In fact, everything I love about The Jerk is what I love about Pennies From Heaven. Some of the musical sequences are breathtaking, particularly a dance number performed by Christopher Walken ! And the subtle beauty of the last song sung by Steve Martin, I don't know how to describe it. In closing, this movie is not for everybody. But I know I am not the only person out there who will see this movie as the unique gift that it is. Please give it a shot.

43 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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