(1981) dir Herbert Ross w/Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Jessica Harper, Christopher Walken [108 min; 35mm]
PENNIES FROM HEAVEN is a complicated, dazzling spectacle from Herbert Ross, director of Footloose and Steel Magnolias. Struggling Depression-era sheet music salesman Arthur Parker (Martin) finds escape from the drudgery of life through musical fantasies. After an affair with a shy schoolteacher (Peters), Arthur returns home to his unhappy marriage and failing business. Meanwhile Eileen is fired and turns to prostitution with the help of Tom (Walken), until a chance encounter leads to her reunion with Arthur. But will they live happily ever after like in a pop song?
“Pennies from Heaven is the most emotional movie musical I’ve ever seen. It’s a stylized mythology of the Depression which uses the popular songs of the period as expressions of people’s deepest longings – for sex, for romance, for money, for a high good time…there was never a second when I wasn’t fascinated by what was happening on the screen.” –Pauline Kael, New Yorker
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