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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)
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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 (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

At least four paintings are recreated as "tableaux vivants" in the film: "Hudson Bay Fur Company" (1932) and "20 Cent Movie" (1936), both by Reginald Marsh, and "New York Movie" (1939) and "Nighthawks" (1942), both by Edward Hopper. Three of the four were painted after 1934, when the movie takes place, and all depict scenes in New York, not Chicago, the setting of the movie. Turner Classic Movies uses the "Fur Company" and "Nighthawks" shots in their "Open All Night" interstitial. See more »

Goofs

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

Referenced in Hill Street Blues: Nichols from Heaven (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

Let's Face the Music and Dance
(1936)
Written by Irving Berlin (uncredited)
Performed by Fred Astaire
Danced by Fred Astaire (uncredited) and Ginger Rogers (uncredited) in a clip from the film Follow the Fleet (1936)
Courtesy of RKO Pictures
Also danced by Steve Martin (uncredited) and Bernadette Peters (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Solving the Musical Problem
9 August 2004 | by marcslopeSee 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.


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