Based on Bertolt Brecht’s and Kurt Weill’s 1931 German film, THE THREEPENNY OPERA (another version came in 1963 with Sammy Davis, Jr. entitled THREE PENNY OPERA), this film’s story centers around Macheath, a notorious, amorous gangster of the 1890s known colloquially as “Mack the Knife.”
Mack, a dashing and “respected” criminal whose territory is London, is best of friends with the corrupt police chief, Tiger Brown. Also a polygamist, Mack decides to marry Polly Peachum, a pretty, sensual young woman overcome by Mack’s affections. When Mr. and Mrs. Peachum, Polly’s scheming and corrupt parents who run a begging-for-profit ring, discover that Mack has deflowered their daughter, they seek to undo him.
Mack finds himself surrounded by three loyal women: Lucy, Tiger Brown’s daughter to whom he’s married; Jenny, his bitter, jealous prostitute/mistress; and, Polly. As Lucy says, “I’d rather see you hang in the gallows than in any other woman’s arms.”
Hanging is precisely what Mr. Peachum pressures Tiger Brown to do to Mack, otherwise he will stage a revolt of the beggars to disrupt the upcoming coronation of the queen. Forced to prevent the beggars’ revolt, Tiger Brown arrests Mack with help from Jenny, then sends him to the gallows amidst a celebration singing his praises. The final scene then shifts to a contemporary London theater where it is revealed that the characters are merely actors on a stage. Macheath bellows: “I am saved! I am saved!”
While the movie has a rare combination of popular singing and good acting, as well as a design rich in atmospheric detail which is a delight to the eye, its depiction of jealousy, envy, greed, and sexual immorality brings to mind James 3:16. “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
However, “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (although, ironically, Macheath does not get spiritually saved). This should teach us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Avoid MACK THE KNIFE.
Profanity, obscenity, polygamy, promiscuity, adultery, prostitution, sexual innuendos, and drunkenness.