In Chicago during the 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. —IMDb
American director/choreographer Herbert Ross divided his time between Broadway and the American Ballet Theatre in the 1950s and 1960s. Ross also choreographed numerous live television programs, and handled the dance sequences of such films as Carmen Jones (1954), Inside Daisy Clover (1963) and Dr. Doollittle (1967). His first screen directorial job was Goodbye Mr. Chips, an overblown 1969 remake of a well-regarded 1939 MGM feature. Ross’ subsequent cinema reputation rested on his ability to transfer popular stage plays to the screen, as witness The Owl and The Pussycat (1970), The Sunshine Boys (1975) and California Suite (1978). While he was expert in cinematizing the plays of Neil Simon, Ross was critcally lambasted for his conformist approach to Woody Allen’s Play it Again Sam (1972), though this film was one of Allen’s biggest moneymakers. Ross also directed a brace of Neil Simon screenplays, The Goodbye Girl (1977) (which won an Oscar for star Richard Dreyfuss) and Max Dugan Returns… read more
Christopher Walken's GOTTA DANCE, and he's terrific.- a multi-talented guy. Those were desperate times to live in; the movies being an escape for a few hours, but the bleakness of their existence is their waiting for them, at the end of a film or a song. The milk of human kindness was as dried up as Oklahoma farmland. This was one of Steve Martin's first dramatic roles, and he played the part well.
Combining the Depression Era weepy w/ the New Hollywood domestic drama, PENNIES examines the Hollywood musical as an internalized escape from oppressive circumstances. What results is a stunning display of new age romanticism and naked emotion, juxtaposed against desperate folks making destructive life choices. The musical set-pieces start out as ebullient, eventually becoming heartbreaking tableaus of broken dreams.
People trying to escape to a fantasy world where songs make up for the harsh reality they live in is a subject I find utterly appealing, even more if there is a lively, playful mastermind behind it to inject a good measure of black humour to the mix. Too bad Dennis Potter's amazing writing wasn't adapted to the silver screen by an equally sharp mind. But I pass things like that because I love the period and songs.