Pennies from Heaven
Dir. Herbert Ross. 1981, 108 mins. Restored 35mm print from the Academy Film Archive. With Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Walken. Herbert Ross’s delicate and brilliantly conceived adaptation of Dennis Potter’s television serial drama stars a moving Martin as a sheet-music salesman during the Great Depression. For him and the schoolteacher he loves, played by Peters, music provides an escape from a dreary reality, however briefly. Endlessly moving, with spectacular dancing (including a number by the great hoofer Christopher Walken) and lip-synched period songs, all captured in exquisite Edward Hopper-esque images by master cinematographer Gordon Willis.
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