Pennies From Heaven (1978)





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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
Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
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Audience Reviews for Pennies From Heaven


Bob Hoskins became a star in Britain in 1978 with this interesting miniseries that pointedly juxtaposes real life with life portrayed in media, particularly life in song. Set in the 1930's, the rosy haven of melodic yearnings has no comparison in the real world where money, or the lack of it, calls the tune, except in the hearts and minds who devoutly wish it all were true. The cast is adept at switching instantly from rough and down and dirty to "there's a golden tomorrow for us somewhere", and though the format of miming old pop songs jars at first the presentation is original and daring enough to put doubts away. Interesting bit of Brit culture and history.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

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