Pennies From Heaven

Director: Herbert Ross
Year Released: 1981
Rating: 2.0

Presents a simple dichotomy in the form of: Depression-era life sleazy and rotten, the dream-life of that era's inhabitants (as channeled through popular music) gorgeous. Steve Martin's character is despicable - he ruins the lives of the women he comes across (he cheats on his wife, impregnates a teacher who gets fired and becomes a prostitute and is part of the chain of events that gets a blind girl killed) and the film's downbeat message is alienating. Piles on the glumness to validate writer Dennis Potter's moral stance, then usurps the expected retribution for a mandatory Hollywood ending; the sense of self-satisfaction and heavy sarcasm render it inferior to what Woody Allen did with Radio Days.