The Beggar's Opera

  • 1952
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Musical

Eclectic, thoughtful, but not an unmitigated smash. The esteemed Brook made his film directing debut with THE BEGGAR'S OPERA, an attempt at re-creating John Gay's original play on film. (It was also done as The Threepenny Opera with a score by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.) The music in this version is by Sir Arthur Bliss, with lyrics by Christopher Fry...read more

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Eclectic, thoughtful, but not an unmitigated smash. The esteemed Brook made his film directing debut with THE BEGGAR'S OPERA, an attempt at re-creating John Gay's original play on film. (It was also done as The Threepenny Opera with a score by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.) The music in

this version is by Sir Arthur Bliss, with lyrics by Christopher Fry (The Lady's Not For Burning) as well as some additional dialogue for the Cannan screenplay. Olivier stars as MacHeath, with Holloway as Lockit, Griffith as the Beggar, and the wonderful Seyler (who gave one of the funniest

performances in any comedy in MAKE MINE MINK and for years specialized in classical stage work) as Mrs. Trapes. Olivier provides a play-within-a-play as a prisoner in Newgate who creates an opera based on his own life.

It's all very complex and may have been better done in MAN OF LA MANCHA. This is an ambitious project that never quite comes off. Olivier and Holloway did their own singing, but the others were dubbed. Olivier is no Howard Keel and lacks the inherent sexiness to play MacHeath; he did well to stay

out of musicals, unless doing character singing like THE ENTERTAINER. Bold attempt failed at the box office, but, for film enthusiasts, it remains an interesting curiosity.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Eclectic, thoughtful, but not an unmitigated smash. The esteemed Brook made his film directing debut with THE BEGGAR'S OPERA, an attempt at re-creating John Gay's original play on film. (It was also done as The Threepenny Opera with a score by Bertolt Brec… (more)

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