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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 June, 2004, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK
DVD review: Pennies From Heaven
By William Gallagher
BBC News Online

Pennies From Heaven
Pennies From Heaven was shown on UK television in 1978
Dennis Potter's landmark TV drama Pennies From Heaven was released on DVD in the UK on Monday.

When eager hands snatched up The Singing Detective DVD - not the new film version - eager eyes spotted it was labelled "The Dennis Potter Collection".

"Collection" means more titles, and it is Pennies From Heaven that fans have been waiting for. Myself, I want to see his Blue Remembered Hills again.

Maybe that will come later. But for now, this is Potter's famous drama in which everybody mimes to 1930s songs.

In a time when the BBC was making earnest dramas straight from the kitchen sink, this was more lip-sync.

A strikingly young Bob Hoskins stars as Arthur, a sheet music seller who falls for a teacher. With six parts, you know it doesn't go smoothly.

Most of the DVD transfer does - the title sequence on some episodes looks grainier than others and it always jars when you go from film to studio.

The 1930s music does not lend itself to great stereo effects - but does lend itself to toe-tapping along the way.

Make sure you check the "Set Up" option - two audio commentaries are hidden under that menu.

These two producer commentaries are the only extras, but they are interesting, especially when talking about how they reacted to this strange Dennis Potter script.

Open Range
Open Range was released at UK cinemas in March
Open Range

It used to be that if Kevin Costner's career was wobbling, he'd make another film about sport. But it took another western to put him back on top.

More than a decade after Dances With Wolves, Open Range is not as strong as that, not as compelling, but still laudable and engrossing.

The future, in the form of ranchers, fights the past, in the form of what are called free-grazing cattle drives.

A very good Costner and an excellent Robert Duvall are the past and Michael Gambon is the face of the future.

Costner provides a commentary for the film and also deleted scenes, plus he narrates a documentary about the history of the open ranges.

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