A Thing of the Past

Pennies from Heaven - 35mm

On 35mm! Nov. 12 and 14 only.

A Thing of the Past is Ragtag's new series celebrating contemporary musicals that imaginatively use song and dance to engage with history.


Adapted from Dennis Potter's landmark British TV miniseries and relocated to the United States during the Depression, Pennies from Heaven dramatizes how popular songs both shaped and reflected the thoughts of people living through economic and emotional hardship.

Arthur Parker (Steve Martin) is a sheet music salesman who believes that he can spot a hit a mile away and wants to open his own store. But he can't get a bank loan and his wife Joan (Jessica Harper), who has savings left to her by her father, refuses to give him the money. Also, while Arthur has a fierce sexual appetite, Joan generally refuses his advances. While on the road, Arthur meets Eileen (Bernadette Peters), a shy schoolteacher as desperate for affection as Arthur is hungry for sex. Arthur's buoyant tap number to "My Baby Said Yes" and Eileen's saucy rendition of "Love is Good for Anything That Ails You" are reflections of their needs for money and love, and their pas de deux on "Let's Face the Music and Dance" is at once an escape and an acknowledgement of their hopelessness.

Directed by Herbert Ross (Footloose, Steel Magnolias).

Made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.