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Moscow Laughs (1934)

Vesyolye rebyata (original title)
Merry Fellows was the first Soviet musical comedy. Set in Odessa and Moscow in the 1930's. Shepherd Kostya Potekhin (Utyosov) is mistaken for an international concert star. He falls in love... See full summary »

Director:

(as G. V. Aleksandrov)

Writers:

(as G. V. Aleksandrov), (as N. R. Erdman) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Leonid Utyosov ...
Kostya Potekhin
Lyubov Orlova ...
Anyuta - the Housemaid
Mariya Strelkova ...
Yelena - Child of the Foreign Trade Union
Yelena Tyapkina ...
Anyuta's Stepmother (as Ye. Tyapkina)
Fyodor Kurikhin ...
Mortician (as F.N. Kurikhin)
Arnold Arnold ...
Conductor from Paraguay (as G. Arnold)
Robert Erdman ...
German music teacher (as R. Yerdman)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marya Ivanovna
Edit

Storyline

Merry Fellows was the first Soviet musical comedy. Set in Odessa and Moscow in the 1930's. Shepherd Kostya Potekhin (Utyosov) is mistaken for an international concert star. He falls in love with Anyuta (Orlova) and plays the "star" for her. In a cascade of comic musical numbers he becomes the leader of a Jazz-Band and gives a hilarious show at the Odessa Music Hall. Now he is destined to perform at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Written by Steve Shelokhonov

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 March 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jolly Fellows  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(HDCAM)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

The animated credits begin with the names and faces of Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, followed on the next title by the text "do not participate in this film". The letters are then mixed and reappear as "in this film participate", followed by the actual cast members. The credits also list "Marya Ivanovna" with a large question mark; the question mark turns into a cow, which then paints with her tail the title of the film (in the film, Marya Ivanovna happens to be the name of a lazy cow in the herd tended by the main character Kostya Potekhin). See more »

Connections

Referenced in When Father Was Away on Business (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ambitious but Dishearteningly Unpolished
12 June 2007 | by (Virginia, U.S.) – See all my reviews

This first Soviet musical comedy on film still shows signs of silent era mentality, mainly because the sound is so poorly coordinated with the picture, as if it were an afterthought, but also because the gags are predominantly visual. You'll wince at many of the shots too, especially those close-ups of the actors delivering each single line -- it's hard to be subtle when the camera's 18 inches from your face. Also obvious is the political subtext -- a jolly peasant demolishes the upper crust's airs and way of life. It's interesting that, in this as in many Soviet films that try to be light-hearted, food and drink fairly tumble off the screen, as if to feed those in abject poverty who have come to watch it.

For all that, the director, Grigori Aleksandrov, challenged himself and his crew with some awesomely complex shoots. The opening scene of the shepherd marching his animals out of the pen and through the farmland, past peasants and workers, is quite lengthy, but only involves four takes spliced subtly together. (Oh, but would the sound have matched better!) Similarly, the would-be female singer strolls down the beach past a cornucopia of beach activity, some in the extreme foreground, some mid-field, some in the back behind her. It's one long take, and yet it manages to be interesting and funny at times, and it even manages to set up a later gag while it's at it.

And the music: It's jazz from the acoustic era, with tubas providing the bass line, pretty quaint and good-timey. But about half of the music in the soundtrack is full orchestral material composed by Isaak Dunayevsky, with a rousing salute to the simple peasant life getting a full-blown treatment both at the beginning and the end of the picture, the equivalent of Socialist Realism for music. It's a great little melody you can whistle on the way home as you wonder where your next meal will come from.


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