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THREEPENNY OPERA

Germany, 1931 (MIFF 1956, Programme 29)

Director: G. W. Pabst

A genial adaptation lull of criticism and social satire, of the famous Brecht &ndash: Weill opera which was based on John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera," and the works of Francois Villon.

The plot, which is laid in an imaginary London of the end of the nineteenth century, features three rogues: Mackie Messer, leader of a gang of criminals; Peachum, the king of the beggars; and Tiger &ndash: Brown, the corrupt police commissioner.

Mackie secretly marries Polly, Peachum's daughter. The Beggar &ndash: King is so infuriated that he threatens to disturb the coronation of the Queen by a beggars' demonstration unless the commissioner arrests Mackie. Mackie is arrested, but the procession nonetheless ends in chaos, for Peachum has been unable to call back his beggars.

Later, Mackie manages to escape and learns that Polly has set up a banking business. Although the beggars' demonstration causes the downfall of both Peachurn and Tiger &ndash: Brown, Mackie cares sufficiently for them to admit them as partners in Polly's bank. A new financial empire is in the making, and the three rogues become pillars of society.

Especially memorable are the settings of the imaginary Soho underworld with their period &ndash: parody, and the photography of Fritz Arno Wagner. The cast, too, was unerringly chosen. This film is one of Pabst's most felicitous successes.

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