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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
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

Steve Martin chose to do this movie rather than Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). See more »

Goofs

When Arthur meets the blind girl, he says that he is traveling from Chicago to Galena, IL. The police later ask about his travels along IL Route 1. IL Route 1 starts in Chicago and runs south, paralleling the Illinois-Indiana border, ending at the Kentucky border. Galena is west of Chicago, in the extreme northwest corner of the state. 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

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

 
25 years later the crowd is ready.
6 February 2005 | by ptb-8See all my reviews

I am glad I don't live in Frostbite Falls because I might shiver at the thought of such a complex and clever film as PENNIES FROM HEAVEN. Made with a massive 1980 budget of $22 million and all of it up there on the screen, this genuine masterwork is one of the great unappreciated and misunderstood films of its day. The biggest hurdle the film could not overcome (then) was the casting of comedy stars in Art Deco darkness. Steve Martin had just scored a bullseye in the wild comedy THE JERK. For mainstream audiences to even then turn around and slightly embrace the sad loneliness of PENNIES' aching melancholy is impossible. PENNIES' failed and was consigned to misfire history. Today in 2005 this film deserves to stand with CHICAGO or even MOULIN ROUGE in its sly dark new century crowd pleaser theatrics. It is a film for this century and if audiences today have the chance to appreciate and applaud it's brilliant creative slant and dramatic spectacle, it will be a success. Possibly in the same ironic fantasy manner of THE PIRATE or YOLANDA AND THE THIEF, or LADY IN THE DARK of the 40s, ITS ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER from 1955, maybe THE BOYFRIEND of the 70s and even the original 1988 HAIRSPRAY by John Waters, PENNIES' belongs to that rare style of musical spectacle: the emotional fantasy with a dark satire core. Truly great.


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