Hampered by over-orchestrated music, smeary color photography and (in the English version at least) poor dubbing, this 1963 French/German adaptation of the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht piece The Three Penny Opera nonetheless has its attractions. Not least of these is the central performance of Curt Jurgens as robber captain MacHeath, whose romance with Polly Peachum (June Ritchie), daughter of beggar king J. J. Peachum (Gert Frobe), puts his life in jeopardy. Hildegarde Neff has an effective cameo as whore-ish Pirate Jenny. For the film’s American release, distributor Joseph E. Levine hired Sammy Davis Jr. to play the Ballad Singer, who narrates the story, introduces the scenes, and sings the opera’s most famous song Moritat (The Ballad of Mack the Knife). Unlike the music in the rest of the film, Davis’ rendition of Mack the Knife is rearranged in Bobby Darin “pop” fashion. —Answers.com
Wolfgang Staudte was born in Saarbrücken, in 1906, to parents who were both actors. Six years later, his family moved to Berlin. He trained to be an engineer before he began performing at the Volksbühne in Berlin, where he worked with Max Reinhardt and Erwin Piscator from 1926 to 1932.
Wolfgang Staudte is one of the few important German directors of the postwar years. Die Mörder sind unter uns , the first German postwar film, remains today among the director’s best works. In the film, a surgeon, Hans Mertens, returns home from the war, becomes an alcoholic, and lives hopelessly among the ruins. His girlfriend Susanne has survived a concentration camp and attempts to help him overcome his apathy. The apathy is quickly dispelled by the appearance of an industrialist, formerly a Nazi, whose outlook remains unchanged and who, just as before the war, uses deceptive phrases to justify the new situation.
This contemporary material was realized by Staudte in a thoroughly realistic… read more