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PENNIES FROM HEAVEN [1981]


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#1 of 20 trajan

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Posted May 26 2011 - 10:11 AM

I know alot of people put down this film when it came out,but I really find it to be a work of art. Any chance we will will ever see it on bluray?



#2 of 20 benbess

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Posted May 26 2011 - 10:13 AM

I don't know, but I also think it's pretty amazing. One of Steve Martin's greatest roles. Haunting. Saw it in the theater in 1981 and haven't seen it since. It seemed pretty epic to me. My guess is they lost a lot of money. Something for Criterion?



#3 of 20 Worth

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Posted May 26 2011 - 10:45 AM

It's a great film, but it was a huge bomb when it came out. I'd love to see a Criterion release, but it's not going to happen. The video rights are held by Warner Bros.


Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife. Doomed is your soul and damned is your life.

#4 of 20 GMpasqua

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Posted May 26 2011 - 11:25 AM

Really did not like this film when it came out, even less on video years later. very depressing, and the actors all lipc sync to old mono recordings. but if you really want to get depressed - watch this film



#5 of 20 bugsy-pal

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Posted May 26 2011 - 01:31 PM

I have always liked this film, not so much for Steve Martin's performance, but for the great dancing. I saw it before the British TV series and I preferred the film. My wife saw the series first and felt that a film version with Steve martin would be an abomination.


The lip-synching to old songs is neither here nor there for me - I could do without that. What sets the film apart is the strong feeling of doom that pervades much of it, and the sensational dance numbers. Christopher Walken's dance sequence and the dance in the rain by Vernel bagneris are two of the most sublime cinematic dance pieces I've seen.


I think the film probably captures Dennis Potter's vision better than the TV series, although it could be argued that Bob Hoskins was a better Arthur than Steve Martin.



#6 of 20 Will Krupp

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Posted May 30 2011 - 09:57 AM



Originally Posted by GMpasqua 

Really did not like this film when it came out, even less on video years later. very depressing, and the actors all lipc sync to old mono recordings. but if you really want to get depressed - watch this film



I agree with you.  I've always WANTED to like this film far more than I did (do.)  The lip-synching was the best part, IMO, but after the first TWO or three we get it (fantasy vs. reality and reality crushes you to earth) but it goes on and on.  Depressing is right!  I don't mind a sad movie at all but when its depressing with no redeeming message other than "life sucks, deal" I just can't get on board.  It reminds me of my boyfriend's critique of the movie LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN..."great movie if you want to watch the entire cast get beat up for an hour and 40 minutes!"  Holds true here as well.


And what's doubly depressing is it HAS beautiful moments and A LOT of great talent involved.  The production design is gorgeous (love touches like Martin and Peters recreating the famous Edward Hopper diner painting and dancing inside FOLLOW THE FLEET) and the dancing/production numbers are great.  It just doesn't hold together.  And any movie that hires Bernadette Peters (I know she was dating Steve Martin and that's why she's in it) and does NOT allow her to SMILE or SING is a complete waste of her huge talents.


I think Steve Martin is an okay Arthur, but I can't help feeling (while watching his performance) that he is very impressed with himself (they are gonna LOVE that I can so much more than be funny!)


That being said I own it on DVD (I keep hoping that one day I'll just "get it" but no luck so far)


I think it played better as a TV series, which I saw years ago but don't own.  Not only is Bob Hoskins (as always) sublime, but the increased length allows us to get a little more invested in the characters and who they are.  They don't SEEM to be brought on board just so we can watch them suffer.


Hmmm....ya know what? I 'm gonna give the movie another chance this evening.  There ARE parts of it I always enjoy seeing.  Who know, maybe this will be the time!




#7 of 20 benbess

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Posted May 30 2011 - 10:23 AM

Will K: I only saw this once, and I remember it sure was a downer. I doubt you'll ever like it. I didn't even remember that Peters doesn't get to sing. I wonder if a song was left on the cutting room floor. The budget for this one was huge. How did a $22 million dollar musical get green lit in 1980?? I don't get it. Esp. one with a script like this. It only brought in 9m, and so the losses were huge, esp. when you put in the costs of prints and promo. What a financial disaster.


It's apparently owned by MGM. Wonder if in their bankrupt state they'll ever put it out on blu. Seems highly unlikely.....


To me, seeing it in the theater in 1981, it seemed like they were showing that behind the world of endless fantasy that Hollywood portrays and which fills our minds our hearts, mine included, there's just so much sadness and sordidness out there--and there was in the 30s too as the classical musical was being born. I know it's really obvious and rather heavy handed, but I loved that tragic juxtaposition. Like acid on velvet, or something. But I didn't like it enough to see this film even once more since 1981.


Interesting that it quotes Hopper. I wouldn't have even recognized that when I was in high school in 1981. But now I teach Hopper every year at my university.


The whole contrast between Hollywood fantasy and sordid reality is found in a great Hopper painting called New York Movie from 1939. Let's see if I can find it. Here it is...



http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/





#8 of 20 Will Krupp

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Posted May 30 2011 - 10:34 AM



Originally Posted by benbess 

I didn't even remember that Peters doesn't get to sing. I wonder if a song was left on the cutting room floor.


The whole point is that the characters sing to popular recordings of the day (where life is good and sunny!) and it contrasts to their lives of despair (get it? get it? GET IT? It's ironic, damnit!!!)  Since they use mostly original recordings of the period, none of the actors use their own voices.  Bernadette's big production number with the school kids (Love is Good for Anything That Ails You) WAS a brand new recording for the movie, but it isn't her singing (rather a female vocalist mimicking a 1930's singing style so it fits in with the rest)


I popped it in after my last post and its playing now.  Still bleak!


#9 of 20 Worth

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Posted May 30 2011 - 10:44 AM



Originally Posted by benbess 

It's apparently owned by MGM. Wonder if in their bankrupt state they'll ever put it out on blu. Seems highly unlikely.....


It was produced by MGM, but the video rights rest with Warner Bros. Warner holds the rights to all the pre-1986 MGM films.



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#10 of 20 Will Krupp

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Posted May 30 2011 - 10:44 AM

http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

The famous Hopper painting "Nighthawks"


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

The reference in the movie


An interesting difference that I recall in comparing the tv series and the movie is that the original British series does NOT have any big movie style production numbers (that I can recall anyway.)  It's done in a much more realistic style (such as it is) That may be one reason that the film's budget is so bloated.  However, you MAY remember that in those heady days leading up to the HEAVEN'S GATE debacle, budgets were routinely in the stratosphere as directors had far more control (and the suits were further removed) than they soon would be (as reality came crashing down around all of them!)



#11 of 20 Will Krupp

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Posted May 30 2011 - 11:01 AM



Originally Posted by benbess 

Interesting that it quotes Hopper. I wouldn't have even recognized that when I was in high school in 1981. But now I teach Hopper every year at my university.


The whole contrast between Hollywood fantasy and sordid reality is found in a great Hopper painting called New York Movie from 1939. Let's see if I can find it. Here it is...



http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/





OMG! That's recreated in the movie too!


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


I'll bet there are more!!!


Edit:  By the way, I am wrong about us never hearing Bernadette Peters sing in the movie.  At the very tail end, both she and Steve Martin actually sing a SINGLE line each of "The Glory of Love" in their own voices.  So technically she DOES sing, but for a true Broadway diva it hardly counts!



#12 of 20 GMpasqua

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Posted May 30 2011 - 11:44 AM

Bernadette Peters  gets to sing just about as much in the film of "Annie" can you believe it? They cut much of the number she's in.

Steve Martin was offered the role opposite her (Tim Curry finally played it) but turned it down because he and Beradette had just ended their relationship and he tought it would be too weird.


Peters never had much luck in films. She had a bit part in "The Longest Yard" and was Mel Brooks love interest in "Silent Movie" (again she does sing or even speak in that one)


who knew she would become Broadway royalty





#13 of 20 benbess

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Posted May 30 2011 - 12:11 PM

Will: Thanks for pointing that out. Interesting stuff. Does make me kinda want to see it again sometime....but I'm so spoiled by blu I rarely watch movies on dvd. And there are so many classics I haven't even seen. I just saw All About Eve for the first time a year ago.... And boy did that movie have some things to tell me.



#14 of 20 Will Krupp

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Posted May 30 2011 - 12:23 PM

Does anybody remember Andrea Martin as Bernadette Peters on SCTV's Celebrity Blow-Up?  I would love to see that again!


"SHE BLOWED UP REAL GOOD!"


Bernadette really didn't have all that much luck in movies, did she?  I'm old enough to (vaguely) remember the TV show she did in the mid 70's with Richard Crenna called ALL'S FAIR but it didn't last too long (even with a MAUDE lead-in!)   I think she only went to tv and movies after the failure of "Mack and Mabel" on broadway (for which she got stunning reviews and the cast album is great.) Thankfully she eventually got her due!

And I didn't remember that about ANNIE!  But you're right....the big production of "Easy Street" was re-shot to be made more intimate.  I was kind of spoiled because the Broadway ANNIE was the first show I ever got to see (with my nana when I was 10) and that was when Andrea McArdle and Dorothy Loudon were still in the cast so I always hated the movie and haven't seen it in years.

My favorite thing about ANNIE:


John Huston:  This is the film I want on my tombstone

New York Times:  Funeral services are now being held at the Astor Plaza (or wherever it actually opened)


HAHAH!



#15 of 20 GMpasqua

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Posted May 30 2011 - 01:10 PM

Actually it was producer Ray Stark who said that. But yes, that was the NYT or it may have been Time magazine (I think Time or Newsweek's headline was "Bow Wow says Sandy")


I also saw Andrea and Dorothy Loudon and they were great - esp Dorothy Loudon - it was a great show for adults. I heard they toned it down and turned it into a children's show by the time it closed. (you're probably a year or two younger than I am)


I remember seeing the film at the Astor Plaza. Halfway through I completely forgot this was based on the stage show and "Easy Street" popped up - I had given up by then. Great cast and score totally wasted on film






#16 of 20 GMpasqua

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Posted May 30 2011 - 01:22 PM

"Pennis From Heaven" did have some good things in it.  Besides Bernadette Peters, who was very good, there was the "My Baby say yes,yes" number in the bank and Christopher Walken was surprizing good in "Let's Misbehave" - I had no idea he was a song and dance man back then coming off "The Deer Hunter" The song with the children was also very good as was the Astaire and Rodgers number


If you watch the old "Sonny and Cher" show you can see Steve Martin was one of the backup singers/dancers, but I didn't know he could really sing until "Little Shop of Horrors" came out


But the rest of the film left a very bad taste in my month, so much so I had to brush my teeth when I got home



#17 of 20 Will Krupp

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Posted May 30 2011 - 02:12 PM



Originally Posted by GMpasqua 

Actually it was producer Ray Stark who said that.



Oh yes you are so RIGHT!!! Ray Stark (hahah) saying it makes much more sense than John Huston (what was HE thinking anyway?)


The good things about PENNIES are what makes the movie as a whole so dispiriting and disappointing.  Well, at least on DVD we can watch the parts we want.  I did watch it again tonight and now I just want to take a nap!



#18 of 20 Matt Hough

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Posted May 30 2011 - 02:14 PM

I only have Pennies from Heaven on laserdisc. I never even bothered to update with the DVD. I haven't watched it in years, but like some others here, I do find it effective in spots and some individual numbers are stunning on their own, but the collective impact of all that work and time and millions is so depressing and distressing that it's a chore to sit through by the end.



#19 of 20 Lilia-lilio

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Posted April 14 2012 - 03:14 PM

Really did not like this film when it came out, even less on video years later. very depressing, and the actors all lipc sync to old mono recordings. but if you really want to get depressed - watch this film

But the movie needed to be depressing. I thought the fact that "Pennies From Heaven" ended very solemn effectively portrays how people during the Great Depression must have felt. The musical contradicted itself in that it did not end happily or sugar-coat the characters' lives. It was a little redundant in the comparison between great dream sequences and the harsh reality but that was needed to share the struggle of the characters to the audience. To me, the movie was well made and blended fantasy and reality in creative ways along with the great dance sequences.

#20 of 20 Matt Hough

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Posted April 15 2012 - 12:19 AM

As for Christopher Walken as a song and dance man, you can hear him on the off-Broadway cast recording of Best Foot Forward made in the early 1960s with another up-and-comer - Liza Minnelli.