The Threepenny Opera

GEORG WILHELM PABST

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 , , , , , dialogue by , based on the play Die Dreigroschenoper by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by , , .  Production Design by . Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

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.

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