Producer/director Menahem Golan split from his partner Yoram Globus in 1989 and formed the 21st Century Film Corporation, which continued to make action and exploitation films as Golan and Globus' Cannon company had made previously, but also indulged in the occasional art project. Such was Mack the Knife, Golan's film adaptation of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, for which he served as producer, director, and screenwriter. That he changed the title of this venerable property is some indication of his attitude toward it; altering The Threepenny Opera to Mack the Knife is a little like remaking Gone with the Wind and calling it Rhett Butler. Golan optioned Marc Blitzstein's celebrated translation and adaptation of The Threepenny Opera and then proceeded to rewrite many of the lyrics with record producer Dov Seltzer, so that songs sometimes have the ungainly and unlikely songwriting credit of Weill/Brecht/Blitzstein/Golan/Seltzer. He had a series of arrangers write new arrangements to replace Weill's, and reassigned many of the vocal parts, in particular beefing up the role of the street singer to give Roger Daltrey more to do than just sing the title song. Daltrey did his best, and the cast was led by Raul Julia (who had starred in the 1976 Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera) and opera diva Julia Migenes, but the result of all the wholesale changes was a cinematic and musical disaster. Mack the Knife is simply too far from Weill and Brecht's concept for The Threepenny Opera to please fans of the show, and it doesn't work as a new piece. Almost any recording of the show is preferable to this one.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann