Outskirts is an internationally renowned masterpiece of early sound cinema. In a remote Russian village during World War I, colorful and nuanced characters experience divided loyalties: ... See full summary »
Natasha and her grandfather live in a cottage near Moscow, making hats for Madame Irène. Madame and her husband have told the housing committee that Natasha rents a room from them; this ... See full summary »
A World War II Hollywood propaganda film detailing the dark underside of Nazism and the Third Reich set between two brothers, Kurt and Erik Franken, whom are SS officers in the Nazi party. ... See full summary »
Yussuf and Aliosha are two shipwrecked sailors on an island in the Caspian Sea. They start working as sailor and mechanic for the fishing boats of the "Lights of the Communism" kolkhoz. ... See full summary »
Two peasant children, Mytyl and Tyltyl, are led by Berylune, a fairy, to search for the Blue Bird of Happiness. Berylune gives Tyltyl a cap with a diamond setting, and when Tyltyl turns the... See full summary »
Edwin E. Reed
In a freezing cold World War II winter, two pro-Soviet partisans - Sotnikov and Rybak - head off to find food for themselves and their compatriots. They find a goat at a local farmhouse but... See full summary »
Members of a municipal band, Stanley and Oliver seem to be always following someone else's lead, rather than that of the temperamental conductor. Soon they're out of a job, as well as their... See full summary »
This is quite a find. I'm watching this serial on TCM right now. A Soviet melodrama (with humour) based on a Russian pulp novel heroine modeled on "The Perils of Pauline" is the pretext for a satire of American institutions (wicked capitalists, anti-Soviet hatred, rampant racism) while never failing to entertain. Its central premise is a plot by rich American fanatics to poison the whole Russian population with bacterial warfare triggered by radio antennas. Its main protagonists are a resourceful typist and three reporters alternately channeling The Three Stooges and The Three Musketeers.
While referencing France's "Judex" and the much more somber Fritz Lang spy thrillers of the same era, the film keeps a light tone thanks to actors who are talented, easy on the eyes and physically fit, a necessary requirement for the many action scenes.
The many complex and involving story-telling tricks and subtleties are what will keep you riveted to the screen, however. These characters look and feel like real people you could actually care about. Many of the incidents in this serial would find their way in the comic-book "Adventures of Tintin" later on.
It's interesting to note that one of the co-directors, Fedor Ozep, went on to make films in France ("La Dame de Pique", 1937) and that Quebec's burgeoning cinema of the forties owes him two important early films ("Le Père Chopin" and "La Citadelle").
The depiction of an "imagined America" by a foreign filmmaker is very rare in the history of cinema, although Americans never had any compunction about slapping together their recreation of other countries in their own image on film.
One of the only other parallels I can think of is Henri Verneuil's 1953 comedy "L'Ennemi public numéro un"/"The Most Wanted man", starring Fernandel as a timid Macy's product demonstrator who gets mistaken for a notorious criminal. It was a satire of American gangster films as perceived by the French audience who had a love-hate relationship with them.
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