The Threepenny Opera (1931 film)
|The Threepenny Opera|
|Directed by||G. W. Pabst|
|Produced by||Seymour Nebenzal|
|Written by||Béla Balázs
|Music by||Kurt Weill|
|Cinematography||Fritz Arno Wagner|
|Edited by||Hans Oser (German version), Henri Rust (French version)|
Warner Bros. Berlin
|113 minutes (German version) / 107 minutes (French version)|
|Language||German- and French-language versions|
The Threepenny Opera (German: Die 3 Groschen-Oper) is a 1931 German musical film directed by G. W. Pabst. It was produced by Seymour Nebenzal's Nero-Film for Tonbild-Syndikat AG (Tobis), Berlin and Warner Bros. Pictures GmbH, Berlin. The film is loosely based on the 1928 musical theatre success The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. As was usual in the early sound film era, Pabst also directed a French language version of the film, L'Opéra de quat'sous, with some variation of plot details (the French title literally translates as "the four penny opera"). A planned English version was not made. The two existing versions were released by The Criterion Collection on home video.
The Threepenny Opera differs in significant respects from the play and the internal timeline is somewhat vague. The whole of society is presented as corrupt in one form or another. Only some of the songs from the play are used, in a different order.
Macheath aka "Mack the Knife" ("Mackie Messer" in German) is presented as an antihero and is in league with Tiger Brown, Chief of Police, who is about to oversee the coronation of an unspecified queen.
Macheath marries Polly Peachum, daughter of Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum, but still visits the brothel on Turnmill Street. Peachum is displeased at his daughter's marriage, and threatens Brown with the disruption of the coronation by a protest march of beggars and others. The police raid the brothel where Macheath has gone to visit his former lover Jenny, and after a rooftop escape, he is arrested, imprisoned, and sentenced to death.
Meanwhile, Polly buys a bank and runs it with Macheath's henchmen, making him a bank director, and arranges surety for Macheath to leave prison. This causes a change of heart in her parents; her father tries to stop the protest march but fails.
Jenny visits the prison, and aids Macheath's escape. He makes his way to the bank, where he discovers his new status. Peachum and Brown, whose police career is ruined by the demonstration, also come to the bank and agree to join forces.
- German-language version
- Rudolf Forster as Mackie Messer
- Carola Neher as Polly
- Reinhold Schünzel as Tiger-Brown
- Fritz Rasp as Peachum
- Valeska Gert as Frau Peachum
- Lotte Lenya as Jenny
- Hermann Thimig as Pfarrer
- Ernst Busch as Moritatensänger
- Vladimir Sokoloff as Smith, Gefängniswärter
- Paul Kemp and Gustav Püttjer as two of the members of Mackie Messer's gang
- French-language version
- Florelle as Polly Peachum
- Albert Préjean as Mackie
- Gaston Modot as Peachum
- Margo Lion as Jenny
- Vladimir Sokoloff as Smith, geôlier
- Lucy de Matha as Mme. Peachum
- Jacques Henley as Tiger-Brown
- Hermann Thimig as pasteur
- Antonin Artaud as nouveau mendiant
- Roger Gaillard[fr] as mendiant
- Marie-Antoinette Buzet as fille à Turnbridge
- Die Dreigroschenoper at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Threepenny Opera at Rotten Tomatoes
- Criterion Collection essay on The Threepenny Opera by Tony Rayns
- The Threepenny Opera at the Internet Movie Database
- The Threepenny Opera at AllMovie