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Film Details

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Pennies From Heaven

“I want to live in a world where the songs come true.”

It may have seemed more strange at the time than it does now, but after his success of his comedy film The Jerk, comedian Steve Martin used his career momentum to next make… a depressing musical in which he’s a completely unlikeable character. In context of the career path that Martin has taken and the variety of projects he’s been a part of, it’s clear that it was a smart decision, but he’s lucky the flop of Pennies From Heaven didn’t kill his career completely. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Steve Martin series with his next film, Herbert Ross’ 1981 film Pennies From Heaven.

We talk about the peculiarities of this film and why so much of it seems like it isn’t working, but how enough of it does where it’s a flawed but unique project. We chat about the lip synced musical numbers and debate why they chose to do the music this way instead of having everyone sing. We discuss the brilliant direction by Ross, cinematography by Gordon Willis, and production design by Philip Harrison, and how beautiful the film is, particularly during the dance numbers. And we debate if this film and its structure makes us more interested or less in watching the original BBC TV series from 1978.

It’s a flawed film, one that Andy likes more than Pete, but it’s certainly worth watching and discussing. So check it out, then tune in to this week’s show. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins.

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