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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The rich of this world have no qualms about causing misery but can't stand the sight of it." And there's a happy ending.
These comments are for The Threepenny Opera (The Criterion Collection) and elements of the plot are discussed.

"You gents who to a virtuous life would lead us
And turn us from all wrongdoing and sin,
First of all see to it that you feed us
Then start your preaching. That's where to begin..."

Bertolt Brecht was a hard-nosed socialist,...
Published on 2 Nov. 2010 by C. O. DeRiemer

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "The rich of this world have no qualms about causing misery but can't stand the sight of it."
What arrived was a cheap Korean import which contrary to what was labelled on the product was clearly not mentioned in the Amazon listing. It could have been purchased at a fraction of the price from ebay. Furthermore the single review was obviously plagiarised without any expenditure of effort from elsewhere.

You would be much better off buying the BFI version...
Published on 17 Jun. 2012 by g


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "The rich of this world have no qualms about causing misery but can't stand the sight of it.", 17 Jun. 2012
This review is from: The 3 Penny Opera (DVD)
What arrived was a cheap Korean import which contrary to what was labelled on the product was clearly not mentioned in the Amazon listing. It could have been purchased at a fraction of the price from ebay. Furthermore the single review was obviously plagiarised without any expenditure of effort from elsewhere.

You would be much better off buying the BFI version as it is cheaper than advertised here and appears to contain both French and German versions.

However this product does contain the German version and it is watchable.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The rich of this world have no qualms about causing misery but can't stand the sight of it." And there's a happy ending., 2 Nov. 2010
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 3 Penny Opera (DVD)
These comments are for The Threepenny Opera (The Criterion Collection) and elements of the plot are discussed.

"You gents who to a virtuous life would lead us
And turn us from all wrongdoing and sin,
First of all see to it that you feed us
Then start your preaching. That's where to begin..."

Bertolt Brecht was a hard-nosed socialist, an unpleasant and selfish gent who often took others' ideas and transformed them into something uniquely forceful and original. He believed that the proletariat struggle against the bourgeoisie was unending. When he and the composer Kurt Weill, equally original and talented in Weimar Germany, but who was not nearly so politically rigid or so personally obnoxious, collaborated on Die Dreigoschenoper in 1928, it probably flabbergasted them both to have a huge popular success on their hands. Much of the reason is Weill's clever, pungent score, but a lot of the credit goes to Brecht's utter cynicism about how the privileged behave to the workers. Says one of Threepenny's characters, "The rich of this world have no qualms about causing misery but can't stand the sight of it." The movie G. W. Pabst made from the theater production eliminates great chunks of Weill's music. One would think this would be a terrible mistake. What we have, however, is a movie of social criticism that is so cynical with such self-serving characters that the songs Pabst kept seem to lift an already excellent film into greatness.

We're seeing the story of Mackie Messer (Rudolf Forster), a man as charming as a snake. He's a murderer, a rapist, an arsonist, a thief...all tools of his trade. Mackie in his tight suit, grey bowler hat and with his ivory cigar holder preys on others. We learn all about Mackie when a street singer (Ernst Busch) entertains the crowd with stories of his crimes. When Mackie "marries" Polly Peachum (Carola Neher), however, he encounters the wrath of Mr. Peachum (Fritz Rasp), London's king of the beggars. Soon Mackie's great pal, Tiger Brown (Reinhold Schunzel), London's chief of police, cannot protect Mackie when Peachum threatens to unleash all his beggars during Queen Victoria's coronation celebrations. Eventually, Mackie is betrayed and cast into jail, soon to be hanged. But the Threepenny Opera insists on a happy ending, just as in the movies. Polly has shown herself to be a great captain of thieves while Mackie was jailed. Tiger Brown, while dismissed as police chief has nonetheless rescued a great deal of money. Mr. Peachum's wily ways come into play. And Mackie sees no great issues that threats, violence and money can't solve. They all agree that instead of robbing others illegally, why not start a bank so they can rob everyone legally? And with this happy end, we all are satisfied.

Pabst has created a wonderful visual sense of the time and place in Victorian Soho. There's a lot of shadowy lighting that underscores the rotten society that Brecht and Weill are serving us with such style. The songs that were kept in the movie catch us up in amused cynicism ("Mack the Knife"); the cynicism for naive love ("The Wedding Song for Poor People"); the cynicism of real love ("Polly's Song"); the rousing cynicism of the military ("Cannon Song"); and, powerfully, the cynicism of resentment ("Pirate Jenny"). Lotte Lenya, Weill's wife, who plays the maid in Mackie's favorite brothel and has been one of Mackie's many conquests, sings this with such intensity and, at the end, cheerfulness, it will curl your toes. The warehouse where Mackie "marries" Polly has been made into a mansion of luxury and love that's as phony as lipstick on a pig. The bankers and police officers are the epitome of rectitude and are as hypocritical as many a mortgage lender's handshake. Barely underneath this surface of mutual use bubbles the corruption, as Weill and Brecht would have it, of the rich, the powerful and the complacent. It doesn't take much to remember the paintings of George Grosz, with all those fat, greasy-lipped bankers, wearing nothing but underwear and top hats, lolling in the arms of sweating, fat prostitutes. The Marc Blitzstein translation of The Threepenny Opera that became a huge hit on Broadway in 1954 may have softened the edges of Brecht's class war, but Weill's music and Brecht's lyrics (as translated by Blitzstein) still give one of the best ideas of how effective the score and the stage production continue to be.

Pabst's movie of The Threepenny Opera, in my opinion, rates the over-used term of being a classic. The Criterion Region 1 DVD transfer is in very good shape. The extras are important to learn about the period, about Brecht and Weill and why Pabst made the changes from the stage production he did, much to Brecht's anger. Criterion on a second disc includes the French version of the movie, filmed simultaneously as this German version, but with a French cast. I'd also recommend getting the DVD of Lawrence Olivier playing MacHeath in the wonderful British, Technicolor film version of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera. It was John Gay, after all, who started all this.

Let's let Brecht and Weill have the last words...

"How does a man survive?
By daily cheating, mistreating, beating others, spitting in their face.
Only the man survives who's able to forget
That he's a member of the human race."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First grub, then morals, 28 Jun. 2013
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 3 Penny Opera (DVD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars great buy, 16 April 2013
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This review is from: The 3 Penny Opera (DVD)
This was a great discount price and is normally hard to come by. It also arrived from halfway across the world in three days. Really good service.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Big mistake!, 19 Mar. 2014
By 
M. Wilson (Colchester , UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The 3 Penny Opera (DVD)
Didn't read information properly. Classic German film which was not what I wanted. Excellent film for classic film buffs, but not for me.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Package arrived in time.Dvd inside broken., 23 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The 3 Penny Opera (DVD)
My son Roberto Veneziani has ordered and bought the Threepenny opera to make a gift to me.I jave got the small package in the scheduled time but unfortunately the DVD is arrived completely broken! .Thanks for your attention.Bruno Veneziani.
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