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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

L'Opera De Quat'Sous (aka The Threepenny Opera) (1931)

In Victorian London, the master criminal MacHeath (Albert Prejean, AN ITALIAN STRAW HAT) marries the daughter (Florelle) of a man (Gaston Modot) who controls the beggars of London. Furious at the match, he threatens to disrupt the Queen's coronation with his beggars unless the chief of police (Jacques Henley), a friend of MacHeath, has him imprisoned. In the early 1930s, it was not uncommon for films to be shot simultaneously in different languages. The director G.W. Pabst shot this French language version alongside his better known German version. It's been awhile since I've seen the German version but it appears to be an exact shot for shot replica, the only difference is a French cast. But, sadly, both films are bowdlerized version of the Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill musical political satire. Much of the wonderful score is cut and Pabst's direction seems plodding when it needs spark. While we may miss the thrill of seeing the young Lotte Lenya singing Pirate Jenny, Prejean makes for a much sexier MacHeath than Rudolf Forster did in the German version. You can see why he's a magnet to women. The definitive film version of THREEPENNY OPERA has yet to be done. With Margo Lion as Jenny.

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