6.5/10
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65 user 42 critic

Pennies from Heaven (1981)

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3:06 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Herbert Ross

Writers:

Dennis Potter (written for the screen by), Dennis Potter (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

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve Martin ... Arthur
Bernadette Peters ... Eileen
Jessica Harper ... Joan
Vernel Bagneris ... The Accordion Man
John McMartin ... Mr. Warner
John Karlen ... The Detective
Jay Garner Jay Garner ... The Banker
Robert Fitch Robert Fitch ... Al
Tommy Rall ... Ed
Eliska Krupka Eliska Krupka ... The Blind Girl
Christopher Walken ... Tom
Francis X. McCarthy ... The Bartender (as Frank McCarthy)
Raleigh Bond Raleigh Bond ... Mr. Barrett
Gloria LeRoy Gloria LeRoy ... A Prostitute
Nancy Parsons ... The Old Whore
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Musical | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 January 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pennies from Heaven See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$22,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,171,289

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,171,289
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White ("Follow the Fleet" dream sequence)| Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

MGM prohibited the broadcast of the BBC's original Pennies from Heaven (1978) for ten years after this movie premiered. In February 1990, the BBC aired the original for the first time since 1978. This only happened because around 1989, at the direction of Alan Yentob of BBC2, producer Kenith Trodd bought back from MGM the rights for "a very inconsiderable sum". See more »

Goofs

Bar codes on railroad box cars. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
(1936)
Written by Billy Mayhew (uncredited)
Performed by Dolly Dawn with George Hall and His Orchestra
Courtesy of RCA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent adaptation of the BBC classic
7 June 2005 | by dancingmikeSee all my reviews

Much has already been written here saying positive things about Pennies From Heaven, but the best reason for the excellence of the film lies in the fact that the screenplay was written by Dennis Potter. I give the film a 9 and the BBC series a 10+++. There is so much more to this story than can be told in a single film.

Potter wrote what I consider the two most brilliant series ever on television, Pennies From Heaven starring Bob Hoskins and The Singing Detective starring Michael Gambon. Both were dark films with more than their share of irony. Potter interjected popular music of the eras into the story lines in their original versions lip-synced by the actors. These films aren't for casual viewers. You need to keep your brain attached and operating all the time, so smart is Potter's writing. Those of us who make the effort are rewarded with stories of sheer genius.

The jump from England in the BBC mini-series to the US in the films works better than I would have imagined. I give all the credit to the producers who had the good sense to have Potter do the screenplays for both films. They are translated to a similar mood and setting and the music is well integrated. I think the adaptation of The Singing Detective is more like the BBC version because the numbers aren't so overproduced as in Pennies From Heaven. On the other hand, the cast of Pennies is a powerhouse of musical talent with Bernadette Peters and Christopher Walken and the surprisingly good Steve Martin. With lesser talent in both the writing and acting the big production numbers would have overwhelmed the story.

Watch the US films first and then follow them up with the BBC versions. Make the intellectual investment and reap your rewards. These BBC series are brilliant. If you need more mental stimulation after these two series have boosted your IQ, try to hunt down Lipstick On Your Collar. This is a later Dennis Potter BBC series based on what turned out to be the "final straw" in the fall of the British Empire, the loss of Egypt and the Suez Canal to a considerably out manned and out gunned Egyptian army. This, too, could work as a film (obviously not translated to the US), but only if Dennis Potter could be reincarnated to do the screenplay.


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