Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Original title: L’Opera De Quat’sous
Germany/USA, 1931. Tobis Filmkunst, Nero-Film AG, Warner Bros.. Adaptation by Bela Balazs, Leo Lania, Ninon Steinhoff, Solange Terac, Ladislaus Vajda, dialogue by Andre Mauprey, based on the play Die Dreigroschenoper by Bertolt Brecht. Cinematography by Fritz Arno Wagner. Produced by Seymour Nebenzal. Music by Kurt Weill, Theo Mackeben, Lewis Ruth. Production Design by Andrej Andrejew. Costume Design by Max Pretzfelder. Film Editing by Henri Rust.
As was common with major productions of the era, G.W. Pabst’s Threepenny Opera was filmed simultaneously in multiple languages, with Pabst himself ushering in the French cast into every shot set-up after every time that the German performers had finished filming their scene. What is interesting to note in the French version, complete with translated lyrics of Kurt Weill’s songs, is that the lighting is brighter and less expressionistic than the German version, the pacing somewhat softer and the performances featuring much less bite. There is no doubt that Pabst knew how to sell the film, a musical look at London’s underworld of thieves and hoodlums, to the different audiences he was presenting it to. The down side is, this means that the German one is far more worth remembering as a result.