Industrial councillor Walter Österberg (Valtteri Virmajoki) is an old and bitter man who has been left heirless after his beloved daughter died in a car accident years ago. One day he stumbles upon a young woman named Ilona Jonsson (Toini Vartiainen) who bears an uncanny resemblance to his late daughter, prompting him to help her poor family financially. However, the girl's family members are gold-digging ex-cons who have their own schemes and plans in their never-ending pursuit of happiness.
This is the premise of Valentin Vaala's Jussi-awarded 35th (or so) feature film Omena putoaa, the second entry in his so called Waltari trilogy that also includes Gabriel, tule takaisin (1951) and Huhtikuu tulee (1953). All three films were based on stage plays by the famous author Mika Waltari who also made small cameos in at least two of the movies. The conman tale Gabriel tule takaisin is still easily worth a recommendation but the folksy Omena putoaa is not too shabby either.
Since the story begins with the wealthy councillor mourning his old age, the audience is led to believe he is going to be the main character of the story but the focus soon turns to Ilona's motley crew of a family. The colourful lower class folks are ruggedly portrayed by veteran actors like Tauno Palo (Ventti-Ville), Reino Valkama (Ilona's father Jaska) and Senni Nieminen (Ilona's alcoholic neighbour and occasional mother Anderssonska) and interestingly only occasionally and vaguely show remorse for their lifestyle of crime and deception. Contrastingly, the rich councillor Österberg carries a feel of melancholy and despair due to his understanding of how his relatives are just as greedy and uncaring as everyone else in his lonely world. In fact, I wish his character would have been featured more prominently in the plot instead of paying so much attention to the criminals' scheming, as likable as they are.
Although the optimistic resolution at the end is not the strongest possible and smells a bit like an obligatory happy ending, the many positive details outweigh the negatives. Besides the aforementioned performances, Tarmo Manni and Pentti Viljanen are funny as the intellectual vegetarian Maisteri and Jaska's old cell-mate Kalle respectively. The music by Einar Englund is also top-notch and allows Tauno Palo to sing an amusingly inappropriate little song at a high society dinner party. In any case, had the movie's tone been even more cynical regarding the characters' motivations, Omena putoaa could have been a refreshingly dark look at the human nature. Now the effect feels a little watered down due to the ending that goes against the spirit of the preceding scenes. It must be remembered that the film was always intended to be a comedy though; as such it remains entertaining for what its worth.
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