SLAVES OF NEW YORK
1989, Sony Repertory, 124 min, USA, Dir: James Ivory

In a rare departure from class-centered period pieces, Merchant Ivory captures the perennial predicament of the struggling artist in 1980s Manhattan. When hat designer Eleanor (Bernadette Peters) finds herself in a one-way relationship with womanizing artist Stash (Adam Coleman Howard), there seems little hope for improvement. Only the prospect of having her work included in a major fashion show promises to empower Eleanor and set her on the path to success. Adapted by Tama Janowitz from a collection of her short stories, SLAVES OF NEW YORK is colored with the bright palette of its time, to which Peters adds the verve and quirkiness that have become her trademarks.


PENNIES FROM HEAVEN
1981, Warner Bros., 108 min, USA, Dir: Herbert Ross

Dennis Potter's beautifully melancholic musical pairs unhappily married Depression-era Arthur (Steve Martin) and sweet, footloose Eileen (Bernadette Peters), setting the stage for bittersweet romance punctuated with astounding Busby Berkeley-style dance numbers. The last-ever MGM musical features eye-popping production design inspired by painter Edward Hopper, superb camerawork (Gordon Willis earned a National Society of Film Critics award for Best Cinematography) and Christopher Walken’s wonderful dance number, “Let's Misbehave.”


THE JERK
1979, Universal, 94 min, Dir: Carl Reiner

Steve Martin plays the lovable idiot Navin R. Johnson, who leaves his poor black family behind to see the world. Bernadette Peters sings, dances, throws knives and plays the trumpet while M. Emmet Walsh shoots and curses his way into film history.


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