“I have never spent two more miserable hours in my life. Every scene was cheap and vulgar. They didn’t realize that the ‘30s were a very innocent age, and that it should have been set in the eighties — it was just froth; it makes you cry it’s so distasteful.” – Fred Astaire
“Pennies begins with Martin in a state of despair that only intensifies as the movie progresses. Martin achieves his dream of opening a record store only to watch it die an unmourned death. Peters becomes pregnant, gets an abortion, and sinks into prostitution at the behest of Christopher Walken’s tap-dancing pimp. And while there is no sweeter phrase in the English language than ‘Christopher Walken’s tap-dancing pimp,’ I actually prefer Verner Bagneris’ otherworldly solo to the title song to Walken’s rightfully revered strip-tease tap-dance to ‘Let’s Misbehave.’ ” – Nathan Rabin at The AV Club
Emotionally, hits higher highs than the miniseries version, but not as low lows. Bob Hoskins was definitely a better, slimier and more depraved Arthur, but Steve Martin is fine. More importantly, the sets, design, musical numbers and camera work are all glowing and gorgeous in this version. The story is depressing enough without stretching it over four hours… some character dev gets lost, but the essence is all still here. Ross (or DP Gordon Willis, of the “Godfather” series and all the good Woody Allen films) lets the scenes play out in front of the camera without excessive cutting, proving that everyone in the cast was equal to their dancing challenges.
Martin’s wife stalking him through the bedroom holding scissors while singing “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie” is truly awesome, but as Nathan Rabin says, it’s the title song that kills me. Incredible movie, I loved it. Katy walked out.
Bernadette Peters as the corrupted schoolteacher turned prostitute
Jessica Harper as Arthur’s repressed and frightened wife
“Christopher Walken’s tap-dancing pimp”
The cops close in, fantasy version
The cops close in, actual version