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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'.


Georg Wilhelm Pabst (as G.W. Pabst)


Bertolt Brecht (story) (as Brecht), Léo Lania (manuscript) (as Lania) | 2 more credits »
1 win. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Rudolf Forster ... Mackie Messer
Carola Neher ... Polly
Reinhold Schünzel ... Tiger-Brown
Fritz Rasp ... Peachum
Valeska Gert ... Frau Peachum
Lotte Lenya ... Jenny (as Lotte Lenja)
Hermann Thimig ... Der Pfarrer
Ernst Busch ... Der Straßensänger
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Smith (as Wladimir Sokolow)
Paul Kemp ... Mackie Messers Platte
Gustav Püttjer Gustav Püttjer ... Mackie Messers Platte
Oskar Höcker Oskar Höcker ... Mackie Messers Platte
Krafft-Raschig ... Mackie Messers Platte (as Kraft Raschig)
Herbert Grünbaum Herbert Grünbaum ... Filch


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


Comedy | Drama | Musical


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The film was banned by the Nazi Party in 1933 and prints of the film were destroyed. The film was restored and reconstructed in the 1960s. See more »


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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Version of The Beggar's Opera (1983) See more »


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

First grub, then morals
28 June 2013 | by lreynaertSee all my reviews

G.W. Pabst's version of 'The 3penny Opera' is simply sublime with a formidable casting and a magnificent cast with: Ernst Busch as a street singer, Carola Neher, who died in a soviet prison, as Polly and Lotte Lenya as Jenny. The mass scenes (without the help of computer games) are nothing less than masterful. But, above all are the texts of Bertolt Brecht and the magical songs by Kurt Weill; just delicious stuff.

This eternal masterpiece doesn't paint a rosy picture of human affairs, with a city (pars pro toto – the world) in the hands of people with shark teeth, venal civil servants and a corrupt police force. Bertolt Brecht formulates in simple words the rules of the game, the basics of human society: first grub, then morals. If the primary conditions for human survival (food, safety) are not available, then there is absolutely no ground for any kind of morality. For Bertolt Brecht, in a 'free for all' society the poor, the vast majority of the population, can only survive by (organized) begging and stealing, by dirty works ('Missetat'). After fighting one another, the crime bosses find a far better solution for the consolidation of their power. They make a super deal, pool their resources and create a financial syndicate of criminals, in other words, a bank, with the former corrupt police chief as CEO. What an awesome prophetic idea! With brilliant theatrical histrionics and a perfect 'London' atmosphere, G.W. Pabst shot an ageless movie masterpiece based on an everlasting opera. A must see.

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Release Date:

19 October 1956 (East Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The 3 Penny Opera See more »

Filming Locations:

Staaken Studio, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (censored) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Tobis-Klangfilm)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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