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The 3 Penny Opera (1931)

Die 3 Groschen-Oper (original title)
In London at the turn of the century, the bandit Mack the Knife marries Polly without the knowledge of her father, Peachum, the 'king of the beggars'.

Director:

(as G.W. Pabst)

Writers:

(story) (as Brecht), (adaptation) (as Lania) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Rudolf Forster ...
Carola Neher ...
...
Fritz Rasp ...
...
...
Jenny (as Lotte Lenja)
Hermann Thimig ...
Ernst Busch ...
...
Smith, the Jailer (as Wladimir Sokolow)
...
Mackie Messer's Gang Member
Gustav Püttjer ...
Mackie Messer's Gang Member
Oskar Höcker ...
Mackie Messer's Gang Member
Krafft-Raschig ...
Mackie Messer's Gang Member (as Kraft Raschig)
Herbert Grünbaum ...
Sylvia Torf ...
Whorehouse owner
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Storyline

In London at the turn of the century, the bandit Mack the Knife marries Polly without the knowledge of her father, Peachum, the 'king of the beggars'. Written by Brian rawnsley <rawnsleb@natlib.govt.nz>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Musical

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 October 1956 (East Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The 3 Penny Opera  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (censored) | (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

(Tobis-Klangfilm)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For those who try and translate the title as "The Three Dime Opera" or the "Thirty-Cent Opera," it should be noted that German title "Die 3 Groschen-Opera" translates very well into English as the "Threepenny Opera." 3d (Threepence) in the UK was, in pre-decimal times (pre-1971), the closest equivalent to 3% of a pound. (There were 240 pence in the pound, not 100) See more »

Quotes

Peachum: You too wish to be part of this splendid occasion. You, poorest of the poor, who'd long ago have perished in the sewers of Turnbridge if I hadn't spent sleepless nights devising a way to wring a few pence out of your poverty. For I've shown that the rich of this world have no qualms about causing misery but can't bear the sight of it. They have hard hearts but weak nerves. Well, we won't spare their nerves today! By the thousands we'll tear at their nerves, for our rags do not conceal our ...
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Soundtracks

Die Dreigroschenoper
Composed by Kurt Weill
Libretto by Bertolt Brecht
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User Reviews

Rather a disappointment
11 May 2009 | by (Hong Kong) – See all my reviews

I've just seen the restored 2006 German print, and while I found it entertaining, it's almost as long as the stage musical. The film medium can't support this, and after about the first half hour, it becomes claustrophobic and momentum-less, and a great disappointment. I had to fight the urge to pick up the clicker and press fast-forward. Part of the problem seems to me that the screenplay adapter or adapters didn't trust Brecht and Weill's theatrical instincts sufficiently: they left out half the songs (though the sound is remarkably good for 1931) and reordered the ones that were left. Most problematically, they rewrote the ending, with this nonsense of Polly and the gang taking over a bank. No march to the scaffold, no "Ballad of Sexual Dependency", no last-minute pardon from the King...

Many reviewers here seem to take the London location too seriously. That's just a relic of the John Gay original (The Beggar's Opera): it is most clearly meant to be a satire on Weimar Republic Germany. That's why the Nazis banned it. The real corruption is in the official institutions of power, not in the relatively benign underworld (which reappears in very similar shape and form in Fritz Lange's "M".) Those who don't know Brecht's translations of Gay's original names and texts should learn that MacHeath becomes 'Mackie Messer' (messer mean 'knife' in German, thus 'Mack the Knife'.)

The best thing about the film, is probably the documentary record it contains of just how the original audiences would have seen the story, and how the original performers would have rendered the songs. I particularly liked the Moritaet-Saenger and his incredible trilled "Rs" in the opening scene.


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