There's a world on both sides of the rainbow where songs come true and every time it rains, it rains...


Director Herbert Ross' adaptation of Dennis Potter's landmark British television musical transposed to Depression-era America, starring Steve Martin as a married but sexually desperate sheet music salesman and Bernadette Peters as the lonely schoolteacher with whom he becomes involved in a tragic affair. The heart-rending vintage recordings of popular songs to which they lip-synch-and which flower into stunning full-fledged musical numbers-become emblems of their impossible-to-achieve romantic longings. Martin and Peters are sublime, and Christopher Walken is a devastatingly dapper scene-stealer tapping up a storm to Let's Misbehave.

Ein erfolgloser Verkäufer von Notenblättern im Chicago der 30er Jahre gerät immer tiefer ins Unglück, flüchtet sich aber in die Scheinwelt des Musicals und verklärt in seiner Fantasie seine Mißerfolge zu glanzvollen Tanznummern. Ein äußerst geschickt zwischen Sozialkritik, melodramatischen Elementen und brillanten Musical-Sequenzen aufgebauter Film, der zwar Sprünge und nostalgische Momente aufweist, aber Humor, Satire und optische Opulenz zu einem attraktiven zeitgemäßen Musical verbindet.


Der Ronnie-Moment: ein heisser Strip und Steptanz auf der Bartheke

...Walken as Tom steals the film with a show-stopping strip-tease and tap dance musical number! 

"Danny Daniels was my tap teacher when I was 12 years old at a school called Jack Stanley's in Manhattan. And he said to Herb Ross, 'Did you know that Christopher Walken can tap dance?' Because who would know a thing like that? Pennies From Heaven was the last of the MGM musicals. I was very lucky, being born when I was, to actually be in a big musical movie." (CW) Link

"I do consider Pennies from Heaven, the musical. I’m very happy to have done that because it was the last musical ever made by MGM. MGM made all these classic musicals and then around 1980, the studio was purchased by Sony and the name changed. But when I did Pennies from Heaven, it was still called MGM. I remember that I dubbed my taps on the same little parquet floor that Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, all those people, used.”.” (CW)

A few minutes later we find out that Steve Martin didn't know how to dance before filming "Pennies From Heaven," and Danny Daniels taught him all those steps in about six months. Steve Martin was asked about his impression of Christopher Walken. Not surprisingly he said "I was afraid of him" and then "Who knew he could dance?" Link

It’s Walken’s performance that makes the film – a dowdy but charming tap-dance striptease to Cole Porter’s “Let’s Misbehave.” With a pencil-thin mustache and a lecherous leer, he has all the fearfulness he showed in The Deer Hunter with a sophistication he never showed off often enough. Link

DVD (Warner Bros-Edition)
specials: There is also a 20th Anniversary Cast and Crew Reunion (which unfortunately lacks Peters and Walken).

A letter from Danny Daniels... Feb. 19, 1999

I first met Chris (Ronnie at that time) when he was a youngster in the early 50's. I was teaching tap at Jack Stanley's dance studio in the Roseland Building, 51st and Bdwy (replaced by a skyscraper) and one of my private lessons was with the Walken boys, three brothers.....Kenny, Ronnie, and Glenn. They were all very good students, and I was their teacher for about a year or two. A few years later, I was directing and choreographing an off Broadway musical, Best Foot Forward, and there were parts in the show that I thought Ronnie and his brother Glenn would be perfect for. I hired them and Ronnie suggested I audition a young girl he was taking acting lessons with, Liza Minnelli. She auditioned for me and I now had two future stars in the show. A couple of years later, I choreographed the Bdwy musical "High Spirits" with Bea Lillie and asked Ronnie if he would dance in the chorus of the show. He said sure, and was one of my pillars of strength as a dancer, starring in a number with Bea Lillie, and another number with Tammy Grimes. Whenever I needed someone to do an unpleasant task, like manipulating tables and chairs with string, standing in the wings, I asked Ronnie to do it and he was always willing, even though at times he was running around backstage like a mad man! After that show our paths separated and Ronnie became Chris and many years passed while Chris became a famous actor and received and Academy Award. I was in a conference with director Herbert Ross on the film Pennies From Heaven, and Herb was looking for an actor to play the character of the pimp in the picture. He had offered the part of the peddler to Chris and his agent turned it down. When I heard that, I told Herbert to offer the part of the pimp to Chris. Herb said......but he has to dance.....and when I told him how good a dancer he was Herb was delighted and the next thing I knew we were working together again. Chris is a superb performer, both as an actor and a musical player. I hope to have another opportunity to do another stage musical or film with him.... Danny Daniels


A short interview with Danny Daniels...
Feb. 23, 1999

Q. How did you get started in dance instruction and choreography? Who were you trained by?
A. I became interested in choreography through teaching at the school I mentioned when I was teaching the Walken brothers. Also, prior to my teaching, I was in two Bdwy musicals and had played featured roles in shows choreographed by Jerome Robbins (Billion Dollar Baby...1945) and Anna Sokolow (Street Scene.....1947). I was influenced by these two greats and Anna actually pushed me into that direction.

Q. Other than your videos, [he has a series of instructional videos] do you still teach? Do choreography?
A. I still teach, but very little.....just to help me keep in shape. Yes I still choreograph....I recently did a big benefit at Carnegie Hall, with director Herb Ross (Pennies From Heaven) However, I don't seek jobs anymore, but I do get called from time to time and am particular [on] what I decide to do.

Q. Were the three boys, Ken, Glenn and Ronnie eager students? Is Chris the oldest out of his brothers? Did their mother drop them off, or stay and watch?
A. The three boys were very enthusiastic about their dance training. Chris is the middle brother. Ken is the oldest and Glenn is the youngest. I honestly don't remember if their mom watched, but I suspect she did on occasion.

Q. I have heard a recording of "Best Foot Forward." What kind of choreography was required in this show?
A. The choreography was a kind of jazz---with some tap. I developed the dances according to the ability of the performers. It was a very talented cast.

Q. Did Chris really "jump" up on a pool table and then later on the bar in "Pennies From Heaven?" It seems so high and looks like such an amazing, almost impossible, move on screen. Is there anything else we may not know about that dance sequence?
A. Chris did indeed jump on the bar (not the pool table), but there was a mini trampoline behind the bar to give him a boost. Chris was able to do the whole number without a stop, just as a stage number, but to get the proper camera shots, we did it in about four or five "takes".

Q. When was the last time you saw or spoke to Chris?
A. I spoke to Chris on the phone in the spring of '97 when I was in New York directing a play. I was sounding him out on a stage musical idea I had. I'm still working on it.







"The real surprise, however, is Christopher Walken (King of New York), who nearly steals the show as Tom the pimp. As expected, he's genuinely threatening when he tells Lulu, "I'll cut your face," but no one had ever seen him dance before. Like Bagneris, he has only one number, but his salacious striptease to "Let's Misbehave" is a knockout. Sandwiched tightly between two voluptuous hookers, he shimmies and shakes, tap-dances like a vaudeville pro across the bar and cabaret stage, and even floats in the air long enough to kick the walls, much like James Cagney did in Yankee Doodle Dandy. The performances by Walken and Bagneris are worth the price of the DVD."

"Eine wundersame Evokation der umgekehrt proportionalen Verhältnisse zwischen Realität der Depressionszeit (hier deutlich an Edward Hopper geschult) und dem irrealen Erfolg von Musicals während derselben.
Ein verfremdetes wie verführerisches Artefakt, vom Miniserien-Drehbuchmeister Dennis Potter höchstselbst nach eigener Vorlage kondensiert, von Herbert Ross in seiner besten Regiearbeit kontrolliert abgewickelt, von Christopher Walken in einer göttlichen Tanznummer in den Himmel katapultiert: „Let’s misbehave!“, in der er aber nicht selber singt.

Dem vielseitigen Charakterdarsteller bescherte diese Tanzeinlage nicht nur gute Kritiken, er bekam auch großes Lob von den Tanzlegenden Fred Astaire und Gene Kelly. (Walken was personally praised by both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly for his performance.)







Publicity stills






hosted by

horizontal rule