Pennies From Heaven

Pennies From Heaven

DVD - 2004
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In Depression era Chicago, a salesman is having trouble convincing unwilling music store owners to buy his sheet music.

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lukasevansherman
Jun 10, 2015

"I want to live in a world where the songs come true."
A strange, poignant, and highly original early 80s musical that is ripe for rediscovery. Based on a BBC series by Dennis Potter, who wrote the screenplay, this is a depression-era set story about a struggling and unhappy sheet music salesman, his equally unhappy wife, and the schoolteacher he falls in love with. The bleakness of the period is contrasted with the bright, stylized musical numbers, most of which are set to old songs. It recalls both Coppola's visually innovative "One from the Heart" (a huge flop) and Woody Allen's "The Purple Rose of Cairo," which was a more popular blend of grim reality and fantasy. It's not hard to see why it wasn't a success. Steve Martin was a comic actor, musicals were an outmoded genre, and the mix of styles doubtless confounded many viewers. Martin's great in a more serious role though, as is his "Jerk" co-star Bernadette Peters. Christopher Walken, both dapper and threatening, makes the most of his one scene, in which he does a striptease to "Let's Misbehave." Ambitious, imaginative, and out of step with almost all of its peers, this is an hidden gem for the adventurous viewer. PS-There's some footage from a Fred Astaire movie and Astaire called the film "vulgar" and "cheap." Jerk.

7duffy Mar 13, 2015

Strange film, kind of slow at times. Uses 1930's songs and dance numbers to express thoughts and emotions happening to the characters. Steve Martin is sleaze who, after screwing other people in the story, gets screwed at the end. Bernadette Peters is great. Steve Martin does a great job with the dance numbers, but he doesn't have the flair of Fred Astaire and Christopher Walken, when contrasted against them.

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