Friday, March 6, 2009

Good Heavens: Pennies from Heaven (1936) Bonus Round!

When I started the Good Heavens series and came up with my 5 films, my good friend Mark made sure to let me know that there was a film I was over-looking: Pennies from Heaven (1936). At first I thought I'd watch the film, but not write about it. Then I thought, why not cap off the series with a final bonus round? So here it is!

Pennies from Heaven is a feel good movie that tugs at the heart strings. It's good ole Great Depression fare. Bing Crosby stars as Larry, a free-spirited wanderer who travels across the country with his 13th-Century lute. He finds himself in jail (a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time of course) and serenades a fellow jailer with his lute and beautiful singing voice. The jailer, on his final walk to the execution, thanks Larry and asks that he do him the one favor of delivering a letter to a family in New Jersey. Once Larry is released from prison, being the kind soul he is, he sets out to find the family.

This is where he gets in trouble of the very best kind. He befriends an orphan girl Patsy (Edith Fellow) and her Gramp, both of whom are destitute and being hounded by social worker Susan (Madge Evans). They go on an adventure, trying to find a situation that will make Susan leave the family alone. They even go as far as taking an abandoned, haunted home and turning it into a Haunted House Cafe complete with special Halloween effects, chicken dinners and live music.

There are several reasons to watch this film. It's a heart-warming story, Bing Crosby is downright charming and his songs are beautiful. However, the biggest reason to watch this film is Louis Armstrong! Crosby and Armstrong were sort of a musical duo and this is one of their many acts together. Armstrong has a wonderful musical number called "Skeletons in the Closet" which is worth the rental of this film alone.

This film is available on Netflix but the DVD has gone out-of-print since it's release in 2003.

Now I leave you with my favorite Crosby-Armstrong duet for your listening pleasure...


  1. I haven't seen this movie in a long time... I think I'll watch it tonight after reading your post :)

  2. I'm glad you posted about this one. Bing is not one of my favorites, but I like him in this film. This is such a fun escapade. The Haunted House Cafe idea intrigues me to no end. I like watching Pennies from Heaven just to see that part. Louie Armstrong is such a gem. He makes every film he's in a joy to watch. :)

  3. I've heard the music from this film but I cannot believe I've never seen the actual movie! This definitely going on my "keep your eyes open at the library" list. It sounds like a great film - the Crosby/Armstrong pairing alone will be worth it :)

  4. Very cool Kate, enjoy!

    Casey - Isn't it weird that he is likable in this film? I find that a bit odd, since I'm like you and don't like him much. But he's really charming. He's almost Mitchum-esque ::gasp::!

    Robby - Oh you are in for a treat! Do you usually rent from your library? That's cool. Hope yours has a good selection.

  5. Made me really interested... Great blog, Raquelle!


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