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In Chicago during the 1930s depression, sheet music salesman Arthur Parker is trying to sell his products, but it's not easy to convince unwilling music store owners to buy them. Although he's already married to the somewhat drab Joan, when he meets school teacher Eileen in a music store, he falls in love with her.Written by
I am glad I don't live in Frostbite Falls because I might shiver at the thought of such a complex and clever film as PENNIES FROM HEAVEN. Made with a massive 1980 budget of $22 million and all of it up there on the screen, this genuine masterwork is one of the great unappreciated and misunderstood films of its day. The biggest hurdle the film could not overcome (then) was the casting of comedy stars in Art Deco darkness. Steve Martin had just scored a bullseye in the wild comedy THE JERK. For mainstream audiences to even then turn around and slightly embrace the sad loneliness of PENNIES' aching melancholy is impossible. PENNIES' failed and was consigned to misfire history. Today in 2005 this film deserves to stand with CHICAGO or even MOULIN ROUGE in its sly dark new century crowd pleaser theatrics. It is a film for this century and if audiences today have the chance to appreciate and applaud it's brilliant creative slant and dramatic spectacle, it will be a success. Possibly in the same ironic fantasy manner of THE PIRATE or YOLANDA AND THE THIEF, or LADY IN THE DARK of the 40s, ITS ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER from 1955, maybe THE BOYFRIEND of the 70s and even the original 1988 HAIRSPRAY by John Waters, PENNIES' belongs to that rare style of musical spectacle: the emotional fantasy with a dark satire core. Truly great.
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