Pennies From Heaven

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Not to be confused with Herbert Ross' 1981 remake starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters, the highly acclaimed British television miniseries Pennies from Heaven was the breakthrough work of acclaimed screenwriter Dennis Potter, a rich drama set in 1930s London that uses popular songs as both subject and technique. The story, which centers on the dreams and romances of a sheet-music salesman named Arthur Parker (Bob Hoskins), is punctuated by musical numbers where the characters lip-sync to the original recording, providing the audience with a glimpse of the characters' inner worlds. A dreamer who believes in the perfect world depicted in the pop songs, Arthur is frustrated by financial worries and a strained, sexless marriage. Seeking an escape, on a business trip he falls in love with a small-town teacher; pretending to be a wealthy songwriter, he courts her, and finds a kindred spirit. However, despite the promises of the love songs, they soon finds themselves headed towards further challenges and a potentially tragic end. Potter and director Piers Haggard create a unique sort of musical by using pre-existing songs and setting them in distinctly realistic contexts, contrasting the idealistic, carefree songs with the harsher economic, social, and interpersonal realities of the surrounding world. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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