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Pennies From Heaven (1981)

Overview

Adapted from Dennis Potter's landmark British TV miniseries and relocated to the United States during the Depression, Pennies from Heaven dramatizes how popular songs both shaped and reflected the thoughts of people living through economic (and emotional) hardship. Arthur Parker (Steve Martin) is a sheet music salesman who believes that he can spot a hit a mile away and wants to open his own store. But he can't get a bank loan and his wife Joan (Jessica Harper), who has savings left to her by her father, refuses ...
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Overview

Adapted from Dennis Potter's landmark British TV miniseries and relocated to the United States during the Depression, Pennies from Heaven dramatizes how popular songs both shaped and reflected the thoughts of people living through economic (and emotional) hardship. Arthur Parker (Steve Martin) is a sheet music salesman who believes that he can spot a hit a mile away and wants to open his own store. But he can't get a bank loan and his wife Joan (Jessica Harper), who has savings left to her by her father, refuses to give him the money. Also, while Arthur has a fierce sexual appetite, Joan generally refuses his advances. While on the road, Arthur meets Eileen (Bernadette Peters), a shy schoolteacher as desperate for affection as Arthur is hungry for sex. They begin an affair, which leads to tragedy for both. Punctuating the drama of Pennies from Heaven are elaborate musical numbers in which the characters lip-synch to popular songs of the day, which at once lift their hopes and reflect their fears. Arthur's buoyant tap number to "My Baby Said Yes" and Eileen's saucy rendition of "Love is Good for Anything That Ails You" are reflections of their needs for money and love, and their pas de deux on "Let's Face the Music and Dance" is at once an escape and an acknowledgement of their hopelessness.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Scene-specific commentary by film critic Peter Rainer; Pennies From Heaven: 20th-Anniversary Cast and Crew Reunion; Theatrical trailer; Subtitles: English, Français & Español
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
In 1981, Steve Martin was known primarily for his "wild and crazy guy" persona, thanks to his live performances, platinum-selling comedy albums, and such early movie vehicles as The Jerk. This Americanized version of Dennis Potter’s highly praised BBC-TV miniseries represented a risky departure for Martin, and while the film was not terribly successful in its theatrical run, it has found an appreciative audience in the years since, thanks to video and cable-TV exposure. This new DVD edition should win over a new group of fans. Martin plays Arthur Parker, an unsuccessful sheet-music salesman disenchanted with both his career and his marriage to drab, passionless Joan Jessica Harper. Arthur escapes reality by inhabiting a fantasy world in which the songs he loves spring vividly to life. In this Technicolor world of the imagination, his tawdry real-life affair with schoolteacher Eileen Everson Bernadette Peters seems like a joyous romance straight out of a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical. Director Herbert Ross Play It Again, Sam has his hands full trying to put a positive spin on this downbeat story, but he shrewdly employs the terpsichorean talents of cast members in several showstopping dance numbers. Christopher Walken, in a small but pivotal role as a lecherous pimp, practically steals the movie with one bravura tap dance solo. Martin’s character is not especially sympathetic, but his adroit portrayal of the amoral Arthur shows surprising depth. It’s really a tour de force, and although it disappointed some of his fans back in 1981, today this characterization ranks among his very best screen performances. Given a second chance, Pennies from Heaven invariably benefits from reappraisal.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/27/2004
  • UPC: 012569592421
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:47:00
  • Format: DVD

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [2:10]
2. Empty [5:50]
3. What's the Use? [1:42]
4. Yes, Yes! [2:48]
5. Accordion Man [2:07]
6. Did You Ever See a Dream Walking? [4:31]
7. Pennies From Heaven [6:44]
8. Head, Heart and Soul [2:22]
9. It's the Girl [4:33]
10. Love Is Good for Anything That Ails You [4:30]
11. You Won't Tell Lies [4:37]
12. Lipstick and Dreams [5:13]
13. It's a Sin to Tell a Lie [2:03]
14. Fired [3:17]
15. The Blind Girl [:01]
16. Talking Truth [3:59]
17. I Want to Be Bad [3:32]
18. Stumbling Into Death [3:04]
19. Tom Meets Lulu [3:29]
20. Let's Misbehave [3:19]
21. Something in Return [4:04]
22. Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries [1:59]
23. Record-Smashing Reunion [1:41]
24. Sordid Details [5:59]
25. No Time to Wait [3:07]
26. Let's Face the Music and Dance [2:33]
27. Running Scared [4:56]
28. Pennies From Heaven [4:00]
29. The Glory of Love [4:30]
30. End Credits [1:54]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Scene Specific Commentary by Peter Rainer
      Pennies From Heaven: 20th Anniversary Cast & Crew Reunion
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Off
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