6.2/10
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10 user 2 critic

The Beggar's Opera (1953)

When the composer of an opera about a swashbuckling, wenching highwayman meets his hero's real-life counterpart, he's disappointed with his lack of dash.

Director:

Peter Brook

Writers:

John Gay (libretto), Denis Cannan | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Laurence Olivier ... Captain MacHeath
Hugh Griffith ... The Beggar
George Rose ... 1st Turnkey
Stuart Burge Stuart Burge ... 1st Prisoner
Cyril Conway Cyril Conway ... 2nd Prisoner
Gerald Lawson Gerald Lawson ... 3rd Prisoner
Dorothy Tutin ... Polly Peachum
George Devine George Devine ... Peachum
Mary Clare ... Mrs. Peachum
Edward Pryor Edward Pryor ... Filch
Athene Seyler ... Mrs. Trapes
Stanley Holloway ... Mr. Lockit
Daphne Anderson ... Lucy Lockit
Eric Pohlmann ... Inn Keeper
Yvonne Furneaux ... Jenny Diver
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Storyline

Authentic rendering of John Gay's eighteenth century musical, filmed in Technicolor, about Captain MacHeath, a highwayman, and his love for too many beautiful women. Betrayed by Jenny and Sukey, two of his bygone lovers, and temporarily freed by two others, MacHeath is arrested and condemned to death. While waiting to be hanged, the Captain is entertained by a musical beggar, who has written an opera of which the highwayman is the hero. Written by Mike Rogers <MICHAELPEM@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | History | Musical

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 October 1953 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Bettleroper See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Beggar's Opera" is a ballad opera popular during the early eighteenth century, which used the music of popular folk songs, ballads, and church hymns set to new lyrics to satirize social customs, mores, and especially Italian opera. It copied the three act Italian operatic format, rather than the then-custom of five acts. See more »

Quotes

The Beggar: You're never Captain MacHeath, sir!
Captain MacHeath: Never Captain MacHeath, sir? At my mother's breast I was Captain MacHeath, sir!
The Beggar: I would rather not think so! You're not at all as I imagined. No... no... no. I've overwritten you. My captain is higher by two or three inches.
Captain MacHeath: Hmmm. Wll, sir, thanks to you I shall be higher this time tomorrow by the height of a hangman's card.
The Beggar: No, Captain, you'd never do. There is more of you in two bars of my opera than there is in your own body.
Captain MacHeath: Well, I'm sorry for it.
The Beggar: [...]
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Connections

Version of CBS Television Workshop: The Beggar's Opera (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

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User Reviews

 
Intriguing and entertaining
3 July 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

As was said in my review for the 1963 production of the Britten version, John Gay's ballad/satirical opera 'The Beggar's Opera' is a lot of fun and it is no wonder it's popular with most, the dialogue, music and characters are all great. Benjamin Britten's radically different but enormously enjoyable and melodious, an ingenious and often brilliant modern re-imagining that shows the composer's individual treatment of folk-songs, version is also well worth it as well.

This 1953 film may not be completely ideal, but it is still intriguing and entertaining with a good deal to like. Occasionally, some of the dialogue loses impact when director Peter Brook tries to open up the action. While there are wonderful, imaginative visuals, Brook's directorial inexperience shows with some of the drama a bit undistinguished and stagy.

However, 'The Beggar's Opera' (1953) is a very handsome-looking film, with stylish production and costume design and some imaginative photography that succeeds in opening up the action. The music is a superb mix of rousing fun and heartfelt nuance. Most of the dialogue crackles with sharp wit and avoids being too wordy.

Most of the story absorbs and is lively in pacing, with the action being just about easy to follow and the twist is well executed.

Laurence Olivier may not have the best singing voice there is, but has charismatic swagger and energy aplenty. Hugh Griffith, Dorothy Tutin, George Devine and Stanley Holloway give him strong support.

All in all, intriguing and entertaining if not the most ideal version. 7/10 Bethany Cox


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