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on July 26, 2003
This is a movie Crosby fans have searched for in vain for decades. Not only was it rarely aired on commercial T.V., it was never offered in VHS format. Now, thankfully, the entire movie is available on DVD and the quality is incredible. Not only is the black and white cinematography looking as good as it did in 1936, the audio makes it seems as if Bing is sitting in your living room, singing his heart out to an audience of one.
Crosby was always underrated as an actor and he is wonderful in the role of singing, swingin' troubadour. Child actress Edith Fellows is very effective and their screen chemistry is palpable. There's genuine humor throughout the movie, both intended and, one senses, unintended. Naturally Bing sings several songs, including the classic signature number, "Pennies From Heaven," which was number on of the hit parade for seven weeks. Crosby's voice is an instrument of beauty, depth and power. Close your eyes and listen to him croon: incredible!
An added bonus is a brief appearance by the legendary Louis Armstrong, who was an early and integral influence on the young Crosby. Bing and Louis were friends off the set and knew each other long before filming this movie. Watch for the young Lionel Hampton in Armstrong's band. This is simply a treasure trove of Americana and a really endearing movie. I recommend it without reservation.
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on April 7, 2010
I consider "Pennies From Heaven" a very good movie with Satchmo (Henry) in places and Bing Crosby (Larry Poole). Other characters of interest are Madge Evans as (Susan Sprague) and Edith Fellows as (Patsy Smith). Patsy has Donald Meek as (Gramp Smith) looking out for her. The way they get along is Patsy's ability to "light-finger" things from unsuspecting revelers at a carnival or other public gathering of people. Once Patsy tries to lighten Larry's load, things start to happen that affects everyone involved in Patsy's life. This movie gives it's attempt at a human problem with an easy solution involving more people that Patsy has grown to love through the eyes and mind of it's Director Norman Z. McLeod.

I bought this movie primarily for Louis Armstrong and his band performing "Skeletons In The Closet" which I happened to see when viewing an A&E History of Halloween DVD. I wasn't disappointed.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 19, 2013
1936's PENNIES FROM HEAVEN - not to be confused with the 1981 Steve Martin feature - finds Bing Crosby loaned out from Paramount to Columbia and at his mellow best, never mind that the Great Depression provides the occasional somber backdrop to this diverting musical comedy. Crosby plays ex-convict Larry Poole who, in fulfilling a promise made to a death row inmate, comes to the aid of a little girl and her grandpa, a family so destitute that there's real danger of the girl being sent to the orphanage. Can Bing croon up a solution? Maybe.

It's a lightweight plot, but the fine cast manages to pull you along. Crosby demonstrates his trademark easy-going persona. He registers solid chemistry with Madge Evans, who plays the snoopy (yet practical) social worker, and with Edith Fellows, who plays the high-spirited little girl. Were people really less cynical back in the day? The story suggests that a stranger could just move in without getting vetted, that skipping school won't elicit as much as a raised eyebrow, and a girl calling a grown man her "most intimate friend" doesn't hold creepy connotations.

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN is also noteworthy for two things. It introduces the iconic title tune (which would be nominated for an Academy Award). It also marks Louis Armstrong's major studio film debut (he'd been in an earlier independent picture which apparently is lost). For the rest of his life Armstrong would credit Crosby for establishing him as a steady cinematic presence. Crosby also insisted that Armstrong's name be given top billing with the three main stars, something that hadn't been done before for a black artist in a mainstream picture. Here, Satchmo plays a chicken thief and a restaurant bandleader. He puts his stamp on a fun cafe number titled "Skeleton in the Closet."

Bing Crosby is so laid back, the back of his head touches the floor. He's in his comfort zone here. It's another role tailor-made for him, this time a serenading vagabond who lugs around a 13th century lute. Larry Poole constantly dreams of traveling to Venice, Italy, if only his promise to an executed man would stop getting in the way. In turn mirthful and maudlin and a touch melancholic, PENNIES FROM HEAVEN serves up another pleasant, nostalgic glimpse into a bygone era that I'm guessing wasn't as lighthearted as this movie portrays it. Also, there's a haunted house, which is cool.
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on December 19, 2007
In general the weakest part of any musical is the dialogue and plot that links the musical interludes and this is true of Pennies from Heaven.
The film began with a most bizarre scene in which a man about to be executed requests a favour from Bing Crosby who just happens to be in jail for some minor crime. Once out of prison Crosby resumes his career as a drifter who cant make a regular living despite his obvious ability as a singer. Despite his homeless and moneyless situation he still manages to maintain a well groomed appearance. Of course, this insistence by Hollywood on stars presenting an immaculate image regardless of situation was de rigueur for many years. Much of the plot and acting is somewhat inane and the film is only saved by the music of Burke & Johnston performed by Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong.
As a teenager in the 1930's with the cinema in its hey day I had little, if any, critical faculty and took everything I saw on screen at its face value therefore when I criticise a film of that period I also remember it with nostalgia and pleasure despite the shortcomings of which I am aware today.

Jack Riddle - New Zealand
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on April 29, 2013
The movie (Pennies From Heaven - 1936 version) was fine and fun to watch. The DVD arrived from Germany sooner than anticipated. However, restrictions in Santa Cruz, Ca. (playback prohibited by area limitations) made it impossible to watch on television. I was able to watch the film on my computer by changing the region number in my system setting.
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on January 16, 2014
Love old movies bought this one for my boss who told me the story about finding pennies on the ground and them coming from passed love ones she loved it!
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on September 10, 2013
I love this film! Edith Fellows and Bing were a great team. Im not sure why the DVD is so expensive, but it's a great film!
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on April 8, 2014
This is a timeless classic with well known actors that bring back the old days of really great writing and acting.
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on April 28, 2013
My husband and I enjoy the old nostalgic movies. Life was so much simpler then! This one has a lot of heart.
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on June 5, 2015
Mother loves this movie!
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