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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.

Director:

Herbert Ross

Writers:

Dennis Potter (written for the screen by), Dennis Potter (based on original material by)
Reviews
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 (as Gloria Leroy)
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:

Dinheiro do Céu See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$22,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,179,289
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

When asked in Rolling Stone about the film's box-office failure, Steve Martin said: "I'm disappointed that it didn't open as a blockbuster and I don't know what's to blame, other than it's me and not a comedy. I must say that the people who get the movie, in general, have been wise and intelligent; the people who don't get it are ignorant scum." See more »

Goofs

While the film is set in 1934, the characters watch Follow the Fleet in a movie theater - that film was released in 1936. 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

Let's Misbehave
(1927)
Written by Cole Porter (uncredited)
Performed by Irving Aaronson and His Commanders
Courtesy of RCA Records
Mimed onscreen and Danced by Christopher Walken (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Bravo!
4 May 2001 | by jhawk38-1See all my reviews

Unusual story combining drama, musical numbers and fine performances by all concerned. This had to have been one of the first times that Steve Martin was allowed to show that he is so much more than just some guy with an arrow through his head, a fact that has been demonstrated time and time again over the past 20 years.

This film physically depicts the depression era in beautifully muted tones and powerfully evokes the desperate feelings of people trying to make ends meet during hard times. Martin gives a dead on performance of a man with nothing left in his moral bank account. Arthur does and says whatever it takes to gain the instant gratification he constantly seeks.

As for the ensemble musical numbers, let me just say that even Busby Berkeley might have been envious. Martin and Peter's turn at Fred and Ginger was well beyond adequate and Walken's tap dance number is worth the price of admission.

I watched this movie the other evening after not having seen it for several years. I was amazed at how much it had improved with age. This movie could almost certainly never be made today and, in fact, I find it hard to believe it was ever made. Hollywood rarely takes chances of any kind and this movie had to have been a huge gamble, even in 1981.


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