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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Die 3 Groschen Oper (aka The Threepenny Opera) (1931)

In late Victorian London, the leader (Rudolf Forster) of a criminal gang impulsively marries the daughter (Carola Neher) of the self proclaimed King of beggars (Fritz Rasp). This infuriates both the beggar King and the gangster's mistress (Lotte Lenya) and trouble brews. Based on the acclaimed musical by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (itself adapted from the 18th century John Gay English ballad opera) and directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst (who also directed a simultaneous French language version). Despite the direction of the respected Pabst and the presence of Lotte Lenya in the cast, this is far from the definitive version of the Brecht/Weill musical. Musically, the film has excised most of the songs to the point that I would call this version a semi-musical. The plot is re-arranged and the remaining songs are not in the order they were in the play. Pirate Jenny sung by Polly in the play is now given to Jenny to sing. Alas, the wonderful Jealousy Duet is one of the songs jettisoned. Still, it remains the most "authentic" of the film versions and its wonderful to have an archival record of the great Lenya singing Pirate Jenny. With Reinhold Schunzel, Valeska Gert and Ernst Busch. 

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