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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 fiddle gives Madame's lazy husband a room for lounging. The local railroad clerk, Fogelev, loves Natasha but she takes a shine to Ilya, a clumsy student who sleeps in the train station. To help Ilya, Natasha marries him and takes him to Madame's to live in the room the house committee thinks is hers. Meanwhile, Madame's husband pays Natasha with a lottery ticket he thinks is a loser, and when it comes up big, just as Ilya and Natasha are falling in love, everything gets complicated Written by
An enjoyable romantic comedy and an interesting window into its era, "The Girl With the Hatbox" is a pleasant and unusual feature. The characters are slightly exaggerated to just the right degree, and the story makes quite creative use of a couple of relatively simple situations. Anna Sten brings plenty of energy to the title role, and the supporting cast members work well with her.
The story is pleasantly offbeat, while never seeming forced. It's also quite interesting to see the portrayal of daily life in the USSR of the 1920's. Some of the bureaucratic encumbrances of the early Soviet era are used as plot devices, and it's noteworthy that the bureaucrats and their regulations are not depicted as frightening menaces, but as mere tools that the main characters use for their own purposes. At least a part of the movie's charm comes from the chance to get this kind of good-natured look at the era.
While it's primarily meant as light entertainment, it works very well as such. It's well worth the time to see.
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