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Volga - Volga (1938)

Widely claimed to be Joseph Stalin's favorite movie, this classic musical comedy is a must-see. The action takes place on a steamboat on the iconic Volga River, as two groups of performers ... See full summary »

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Cast overview:
Igor Ilyinsky ...
Vladimir Volodin ...
The Pilot
Pavel Olenev ...
The Water-Carter
Sergei Antimonov ...
The Steamboat Captain
Andrei Tutyshkin ...
Alyosha Trubyshkin
Strelka Petrova
Anatoli Shalayev ...
The Boy Musical Prodigy (as Tolya Shalayev)
Mariya Mironova ...
The Secretary (as M. V. Mironova)
Nikita Kondratyev ...
The Waiter (as N. S. Kondratyev)
Vsevolod Sanaev ...
The Lumberjack (as V. V. Sanayev)
Alexei Dolinin ...
The Militia Man (as A. G. Dolinin)
Ivan Chuvelyov ...
The Olympiad Representative (as I. P. Chuvelyov)

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Widely claimed to be Joseph Stalin's favorite movie, this classic musical comedy is a must-see. The action takes place on a steamboat on the iconic Volga River, as two groups of performers travel to Moscow to perform in the Moscow Musical Olympiad.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Artkino's New Soviet Musical Comedy


Comedy | Musical


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Release Date:

16 May 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Volga Volga  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A shortened version of this film went on release in Britain during the 1940s with songs and dialogue dubbed into English - featuring, among others, the vocal talents of a young Trevor Howard in the role of 'Uncle Kuzya' the water-carrier. See more »


Featured in East Side Story (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

A film review of an interesting film without rabid anti-communist comments
20 December 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

How often do film reviews of British films mention how Great Britain is one of the most barbaric countries in the world involved in the Irish Famine killing over 1 million or how Winston Churchill is one of the 20th century's greatest murderers in the world killing over 7 million Indians in the Indian Holocaust in Bengal? The US has killed more people in war than the Nazis could ever have dreamed about. If you want to talk about torture, gulags, and a police state with no freedom unless you're rich, the US should be number one on your list. Yet, all American film reviews don't begin by criticizing the US as a totalitarian regime. All films are propaganda. Films cost millions to produce. You need financing. You need distribution. There is a reason why you don't see poverty in American films. American films for the most part have been created to be both escapist fantasies for those in the country and to propagate false notions of economic high standards in this country to people abroad. I can't tell you how often I have to fight with people abroad that poverty exists and is very real in the US, because working people are never seen in US films; giving a false measure of prosperity. Why am I bringing this up? Because somehow it is acceptable and expected that all film reviews of Soviet films must address that Stalin was a monster and the former Soviet Union evil even if the film is a ridiculous melodrama completely devoid of politics in it. Sometimes it would be nice to read a film review that isn't rabidly anti-communist just for the sake of it. I hope this will be my contribution to this film review.

Volga, Volga is an exciting Russian musical comedy in the vaudeville tradition of historical interest. Stalin had numerous private screenings at the Kremlin; often teasing Khrushchev of his likeness to Byvalov, the corrupt, boorish, village bureaucrat. He was so was so proud of this film, he presented it to Roosevelt as a gift. Some say it was his favorite film. Not as well-directed as many US musicals of the time, the film is at times a bit laborious to watch, especially in the beginning. Moreover, if you are not Russian you won't catch some of the humor. However, these faults are easily overcome by its sheer energy, wit, and enthusiasm. The film is an escapist fantasy with a politically-charged message. Made at a time when Russian was becoming more urbanized and industrial, the film depicts the charms of rural life. The simple plot seems to revolve around an engaged young couple and a musical competition taking place in Moscow. They break up as each tries to compete for who gets to Moscow first to perform. There is singing, dancing, romance and of course a happy ending. Is Volga, Volga a propaganda film? Yes. The main plot, easy to miss, revolves really around the Byvalov and the rural community he is supposed to serve. From the beginning, we see a corrupt, self-serving official who only cares about "moving up". Forced to ride on a slow horse, because he refused to invest in any modern vehicles, he also refuses to allow the villagers to participate in the contest, feeling they are too backwarded and untalented, until they take matters into their own hands. As the villagers state at the end of the film: "We are glad you laughed…Opportunists like Byvalov are petty in their thoughts and actions..they obstruct our work..We must clean all the garbage. Sweep it away." Contrary to popular opinion in West, the facts are that Stalin was trying to institute elections, but was prevented into doing so by other members of the party; particularly Khrushchev, who by the way hated Stalin and deliberately told many lies about him.

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