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Philandering 1930s sheet music salesman Arthur Parker escapes from his dull life by fantasizing elaborately choreographed musical numbers in which he and the other characters lip-sync to original recordings of popular 1930s music.

Originally a 1978 BBC miniseries created by Dennis Potter and starring Bob Hoskins, Gemma Craven, and Cheryl Campbell, it was remade in 1981 as a feature film directed by Herbert Ross and starring Steve Martin, Jessica Harper, Bernadette Peters and Christopher Walken.

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Includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Corrupt the Cutie: From meek schoolteacher to hooker in a few months.
  • Deconstruction: Of Depression-era musicals.
  • Downer Ending: Subverted
  • Driven to Suicide: The Accordian Man, in the original miniseries.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Accordian Man.
  • Foreign Remake: The film version changes the setting from London to Chicago.
  • The Great Depression: The film never holds back from showing just how wretchedly awful the characters' lives are and why they are so eager to escape into a fantasy world.
  • Groin Attack: When Arthur's wife Joan receives the evidence confirming her suspicions that Arthur's been cheating on her from the police (as they tell her he's suspected of murdering a blind girl - which he's actually innocent of), she angrily demands that they "cut his thing off and bury it!"
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  • Jukebox Musical
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Arthur ends up hanging for the murder of the blind girl who was actually killed by the Accordian Man.
  • Nothing but Hits: Averted - many of the songs are rather obscure.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Basically the central concept of both the mini-series and the film version.
  • This Is Reality: The film plays quite fast and loose with the idea of fantasy interrupting reality.
  • Tranquil Fury: Joan when she leans that he's been cheating on her - she demands his castration with quietly repressed rage.
  • Woman Scorned: Joan will settle for nothing less than having his family jewels physically removed (see Groin Attack above) when she learns that Arthur has in fact been unfaithful to her.
  • Your Cheating Heart

Alternative Title(s): Pennies From Heaven

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