5.7/10
276
7 user 3 critic

Mack the Knife (1989)

In the 19th century London, a young girl falls for a famous womanizing criminal and they decide to get married. Her family strongly disapproves so her father "the king of thieves" gets the gangster arrested.

Director:

Writer:

(screenplay)
Reviews
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The film is set in Northern Ireland shortly after 1994 cease-fire. Hazel is a Protestant and Malachy a Catholic. Romance between them is threatened by Rohan (leader in militant underground ... See full summary »

Director: Mary McGuckian
Stars: Samantha Morton, Ross McDade, Richard Harris
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Arthur Flegenheimer is a thief recently released from prison who is recruited by noted hood Jack "Legs" Diamond. Flegenheimer changes his name to Dutch Schultz and, thanks to his brutal and... See full summary »

Director: Menahem Golan
Stars: Bruce Nozick, Jack Conley, Sally Kirkland
Martin's Day (1985)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Threatened with recapture after a prison escape, Martin Stechert grabs a 12-year-old as hostage. He proves to be named Martin, too - a quiet "good little boy" always obeying the rules, whom... See full summary »

Director: Alan Gibson
Stars: Richard Harris, Lindsay Wagner, James Coburn
Hanna's War (1988)
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

During WW2 Hanna Szenes, a Hungarian Jew living in British Palestine, volunteers to go behind enemy lines to rescue Jews from deportation to death camps.

Director: Menahem Golan
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Maruschka Detmers, Anthony Andrews
Action | Adventure | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

Michael Ransom's Vietnam squad leader, Vic Jenkins, is captured by terrorists demanding ten million dollars worth of diamonds in return for his release. Michael, reluctantly aided by local ... See full summary »

Directors: Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso
Stars: Brent Huff, Mary Stavin, Richard Harris
Grizzly Falls (1999)
Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

When a young boy is captured by a grizzly bear, he begins the most incredible journey of a lifetime, full of breathtaking excitement, harrowing danger and thrilling surprises.

Director: Stewart Raffill
Stars: Bryan Brown, Tom Jackson, Oliver Tobias
The Penitent (1988)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Tension between a jealous husband, his wife who's attracted to his friend and the friend is rising as their small, deeply catholic, Mexican village is deciding who will be Christ during the possibly dangerous reenactment of the Crucifixion.

Director: Cliff Osmond
Stars: Raul Julia, Armand Assante, Rona De Ricci
Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In 1727, an Arab colt is born with the signs of the wheat ear and the white spot on his heel: evil and good. And thus begins the life of Sham. He is a gift to the King of France, through a ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Duffell
Stars: Richard Harris, Glenda Jackson, Frank Finlay
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

George Adamson fights to save Kenya's wildlife. Together with his young assistant Tony Fitzjohn, Adamson battles to keep the animals on his game reserve "Kora" from dangerous poachers.

Director: Carl Schultz
Stars: Richard Harris, John Michie, Kerry Fox
My Kingdom (2001)
Drama | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Modern story inspired by King Lear set in contemporary Liverpool.

Director: Don Boyd
Stars: Richard Harris, Lynn Redgrave, Reece Noi
Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

The Gangster Macheath secretly marries the daughter of beggar king Peachum. When Peachum finds out, he instructs the police chief Brown to arrest and hang Macheath. If not, all the beggars of Soho will disturb the upcoming coronation.

Director: Wolfgang Staudte
Stars: Curd Jürgens, Hildegard Knef, Gert Fröbe
Trojan Eddie (1996)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The story of Eddie, a small town ex con, who discovers he has talent for selling anything and everything. Eddie sees a way to rise above the low life by setting up on his own; what he ... See full summary »

Director: Gillies MacKinnon
Stars: Stephen Rea, Richard Harris, Stuart Townsend
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Rachel Robertson ...
...
...
...
...
Coaxer
...
...
Chrissie Kendall ...
Miranda Garrison ...
Esmeralda
...
Edit

Storyline

In the 19th century London, a young girl falls for a famous womanizing criminal and they decide to get married. Her family strongly disapproves so her father "the king of thieves" gets the gangster arrested.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Scoundrel, liar, thief... They all loved him. See more »


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

2 February 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Koldusopera  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Rachel Robertson receives an "introducing" credit. See more »

Quotes

Peachum: Locks, bolts and bars can't stop a bitch in heat!
See more »

Connections

Version of The 3 Penny Opera (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

I Prefer Duet
Written by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill with English lyrics by Marc Blitzstein
Performed by Richard Harris & Julie Walters
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Out of 10 stars, it deserves 12.
17 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In 1728 John Gay took a suggestion from Jonathan Swift (1716) and wrote a revolutionary opera, "The Beggar's Opera". This was a revolutionary work because in the first quarter of the 18th Century the rage was Italian opera – a specialty of Handel, among others. Italian opera was a highly formalized affair involving the doings of gods, demigods, heroes, kings, and other folk of elevated but generally useless status. Gay's work, in contrast, was about beggars, thieves, procurers, whores, gaolers, and other folk of low status – persons whose appearance on the stage was considered scandalous. The resultant furore of hilarity tolled the death knell for Italian opera. Handel turned to writing oratorios – upon which is based his primary claim to fame. Opera, meanwhile, became more naturalistic. Gay's musical lark had changed the course of the development of music.

Exactly 200 years later, in 1928, Kurt Weill (assisted by his brilliant librettist Berthold Brecht) updated the Beggar's Opera as "Die Dreigroschenoper", "The Threepenny Opera" (although it might more properly be "The Thruppence Opera") – a work equally as revolutionary. In a piece for low characters, with (for the time) shocking dialogue and lyrics, employing a cabaret orchestra – Weill created something that was no less high art than the masterworks of Richard Strauss. It may be argued that Weill wrote greater works for the stage than this, "Lady in the Dark", or even that mountain of monumental bloat "Magahonny", but such arguments fail to obscure the fact that "Dreigroschenoper" is THE Weill masterwork. (And yes, I'm familiar with the fact that claims have been made that Brecht's lyrics weren't necessarily his own.) Weill's great musical achievement has been committed to film 3 times: in 1931 ("The Threepenny Opera"), 1962 ("Die 3groschenoper"), and 1990 ("Mack the Knife"). Of these, despite its defects, by far the best is the last. "Mack" creates a vision entirely faithful to Brecht's vision of the seamy underside of capitalism – which, by the way, was much the same as William Hogarth's, whose engravings wonderfully inspired the sets and costumes. (Yes, Hogarth died in 1764 and the opera is presumably set in 1837, but London hadn't changed overmuch in the interim since the early Hanoverians were every bit as corrupt as the late Stuarts.) Brecht would, of course, have a field day today, when corporate capitalism is entirely seamy, no matter what side you look at. This great film has, alas, not found a home on DVD as yet. The VHS, showing only the feckless pan-and-scan format, is out of print and hard to find.

One of the glories of "Mack" is its cast. This is headed by Raul Julia and Richard Harris. Everyone connected with the production shows an intelligent understanding of capitalism and its love of corruption and war – for Brecht's vision shows us that Marxism (despite its defects of logic and focus) sees the economic engine of the West for what it is: greedy, oppressive, hypocritical, immoral, deceitful, and homicidal. In our age, Peachum would be the head of a multinational corporation and/or in the Senate, and Tiger Brown would be in charge of Homeland "Security".

When the Dreigroschenoper was to be performed in English in the States during the first half of the last century, Berthold Brecht's biting lyrics were idiomatically translated by the talented (but now little-known) composer, Marc Blitzstein. To the extent that these lyrics appear in the film, Blitzstein's version has been somewhat diluted.

If "Mack the Knife" has a defect – and it does – it's the omission of so much of Weil's original music. Some of the opera's number are omitted entirely, and all of the rest are abbreviated to one extent or another.

Some of the music of omitted songs does appear in snippets in the unsung score. The orchestral score doesn't stray too far from Weil's cabaret orchestra arrangement, although the instrumental palette is somewhat broader. There are so many CD versions of the opera (including one featuring the immortal Lotte Lenya), both in German and English, that you would have no trouble hearing – if not the whole score, at least the majority of it. (The Lotte Lenya version is, I believe, complete.) The opera is set about the time of "the Queen's coronation" -- presumably Victoria, putting it in 1837. The outstanding members of the cast may be noted: the "Street Singer" is played cunningly by Roger Daltry. He's not a character per se, but instead participates in the musical numbers and does a bit of "Everyman" comment. Mr. Peachum, London's criminal boss … chiefly a fence and director of a troupe of beggars … is played brilliantly by the great Richard Harris. The fishwife-like Mrs. Peachum is marvelously portrayed by the wonderful Julie Walters. MacHeath is the inimitable Raul Julia, and it's hard to tell whether he or Harris portrays his character more charismatically. The Chief of Police, Tiger Woods is a very nice turn by the greatly talented Bill Nighy). Jenny Diver, MacHeath's lover in years past and now the madame of her own house, is played with tremendous worldliness and world-weariness by Julia Migenes. She disappeared from film shortly after this. She's a Scientologist, but nobody's perfect. Incidentally, this Jenny isn't "Pirate Jenny" of the original Threepenny, but sings her ballad. There is almost always a "Jenny" in a Weil/Brecht production.

What a fabulous performance this is! Weil's anti-establishment opera would be better with its music intact. Maybe so, but it's wonderfully well-served here by wonderful staging, enthusiastic acting, and vigorous realization of the abbreviated score. I give this one 12 stars out of 10. If you can find a copy of this film, buy it – short of a DVD release, you will not see its like again.


15 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?