You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Die Dreigroschenoper

The venerable English sardonic Beggar's Opera was adapted by Kurt Weill (music) and Berthold Brecht (libretto) into Three Penny Opera, a much-produced stage work these last decades. The Nazis suppressed this film version.

Cast:
Rudolph Forster Carola Neher Lotte Lenya Ernst Busch Valeska Gert Fritz Rasp Reinhold Schuenzel

The venerable English sardonic Beggar’s Opera was adapted by Kurt Weill (music) and Berthold Brecht (libretto) into Three Penny Opera, a much-produced stage work these last decades. The Nazis suppressed this film version.

Film was seen in New York briefly in 1931, in a cut version [of 97 mins.] and without complete English titles, and created no stir whatsoever. It’s a sophisticated, cynically jaunty look at a seamy society. Its only moral: crime does pay – if you’re clever enough.

As directed by G.W. Pabst, picture is a successful translation of a highly stylized stage work to the realistic screen medium.

Pabst, getting great help from the Weill score and settings by Andrei Andreiev, succeeds in creating a thoroughly believable never-never land, that is, a turn-of-the-century London as imagined by a German who has lived through the post-war chaos of his own land. Within this frame, the Brecht tale of the notorious cut-throat, Mackie Messer (‘Mack the Knife’) unfolds with complete honesty and a lot of wild, hard-as-nails social satire.

The relationship of Mackie with his one true love, Polly Peachum, and with the prostitute, Jenny, are defined with reality and insight. This is due, not only to the performances of Rudolph Forster as Mackie, Carola Neher as Polly and Lotte Lenya as Jenny, but, of course, to the Weill music. The 1931 Lenya (Mrs Weill in private life) is especially appealing with her odd and haunting ‘Pirate Jenny’ number. Camerawork by Fritz Wagner is firstrate.

[Review is of a 1960 restoration, with a re-recorded and equalized soundtrack, shown at the Museum of Modern Art, NY.]

Die Dreigroschenoper

Germany

Production: Warner/Tobis/Nero. Director G.W. Pabst; Screenplay Leo Lania, Bela Balazs, Ladislas Vajda; Camera Fritz Arno Wagner; Music Theodore Mackeben (dir.); Art Director Andrei Andreyev

Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1931. Running time: 112 MIN.

With: Rudolph Forster Carola Neher Lotte Lenya Ernst Busch Valeska Gert Fritz Rasp Reinhold Schuenzel

More Film

  • 'Geostorm' film premiere

    'Geostorm' Director Hopes Harvey Weinstein Scandal Signals 'Sea Change' for Hollywood

    The venerable English sardonic Beggar’s Opera was adapted by Kurt Weill (music) and Berthold Brecht (libretto) into Three Penny Opera, a much-produced stage work these last decades. The Nazis suppressed this film version. Film was seen in New York briefly in 1931, in a cut version [of 97 mins.] and without complete English titles, and […]

  • Ron Howard

    'Star Wars' Han Solo Movie Title Announced

    The venerable English sardonic Beggar’s Opera was adapted by Kurt Weill (music) and Berthold Brecht (libretto) into Three Penny Opera, a much-produced stage work these last decades. The Nazis suppressed this film version. Film was seen in New York briefly in 1931, in a cut version [of 97 mins.] and without complete English titles, and […]

  • Hilary Swank

    Hilary Swank to Star in Sci-Fi Thriller 'I Am Mother' (EXCLUSIVE)

    The venerable English sardonic Beggar’s Opera was adapted by Kurt Weill (music) and Berthold Brecht (libretto) into Three Penny Opera, a much-produced stage work these last decades. The Nazis suppressed this film version. Film was seen in New York briefly in 1931, in a cut version [of 97 mins.] and without complete English titles, and […]

  • Busan: ‘Gasoline’ fills up at Project

    Busan: ‘Gasoline’ Fills up at Project Market Awards

    The venerable English sardonic Beggar’s Opera was adapted by Kurt Weill (music) and Berthold Brecht (libretto) into Three Penny Opera, a much-produced stage work these last decades. The Nazis suppressed this film version. Film was seen in New York briefly in 1931, in a cut version [of 97 mins.] and without complete English titles, and […]

  • Nora Johnson Obit Dead

    Nora Johnson, Writer of 'The World of Henry Orient,' Dies at 84

    The venerable English sardonic Beggar’s Opera was adapted by Kurt Weill (music) and Berthold Brecht (libretto) into Three Penny Opera, a much-produced stage work these last decades. The Nazis suppressed this film version. Film was seen in New York briefly in 1931, in a cut version [of 97 mins.] and without complete English titles, and […]

  • Jack Gao: Wanda, Legendary Departure Was

    What Prompted Jack Gao's Wanda, Legendary Departure?

    The venerable English sardonic Beggar’s Opera was adapted by Kurt Weill (music) and Berthold Brecht (libretto) into Three Penny Opera, a much-produced stage work these last decades. The Nazis suppressed this film version. Film was seen in New York briefly in 1931, in a cut version [of 97 mins.] and without complete English titles, and […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content