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Pennies from Heaven (1981)

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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)
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?


Many movie posters featured a long blurb that read: "There's a world on both sides of the rainbow where songs come true and every time it rains, it rains..." 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 »


References Umberto D. (1952) See more »


Rock of Ages
(1763) (uncredited)
Hymn, lyrics by Augustus Montague Toplady and music by Thomas Hastings
Played offscreen on an accordian and sung by Vernel Bagneris
See more »

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User Reviews

Solving the Musical Problem
9 August 2004 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

One reason musicals have been going out of style for the past 30-odd years is that audiences simply don't buy the escapism and optimism that permeated the genre in its heyday. This lavish and biting 1981 work solves the problem brilliantly by using the upbeat nature of '30s popular song ironically. The production numbers, and there are many, are toe-tapping, feel- good entities that play in devastating counterpoint to the somber narrative. The production design is amazing, Martin a surprisingly sympathetic Everyman with some rough edges, Peters perfection, Walken amazing in his one scene (imagine what a brilliant Pal Joey he would have made). But then, everybody in this movie seems to be performing at his peak: Even Marvin Hamlisch, whose musical scoring is usually so soppy and obvious, comes through. A salute, too, to Herbert Ross and his wife, Nora Kaye, for employing so many wonderful stage- trained dancers who seldom got a chance to shine on film: Robert Fitch, Vernel Bagneris, and Tommy Rall, who was so splendid in the movie of "Kiss Me, Kate." As far as I'm concerned, the movie's a masterpiece -- but nobody went to see it, and Ross reacted by making nothing but safe, mainstream entertainment for the rest of his life. At least this one shows the audacity and power of which he was capable.

16 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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