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The Shop on Main Street (1965)
"Obchod na korze" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  24 January 1966 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 6,012 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 31 critic

Slovakia during WW2. Tono lives a poor life, but the authorities offer him to take over the Jewish widow Lautman's little shop for sewing material. She is old and confused and thinks that ... See full summary »




(screenplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rozalia Lautmannová
Jozef Kroner ...
Antonin 'Tono' Brtko
Hana Slivková ...
Evelyna Brtková
Martin Hollý ...
Imro Kuchar
Adam Matejka ...
Piti Báci
Frantisek Zvarík ...
Markus Kolkocký
Mikulás Ladizinský ...
Marian Peter
Martin Gregor ...
Alojz Kramar ...
Balko, the bandmaster
Gita Misurová ...
Frantisek Papp ...
Helena Zvaríková ...
Ruzena Kolkocká
Tibor Vadas ...
Eugen Senaj ...
Blau, the Jewish relief treasurer
Luise Grossová ...


Slovakia during WW2. Tono lives a poor life, but the authorities offer him to take over the Jewish widow Lautman's little shop for sewing material. She is old and confused and thinks that he is only looking for employment and hires him. The odd couple begin to like each other. But some time later the authorities decide that the Jews must leave the city. What should he do with the old lady? Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

24 January 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Shop on Main Street  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (2001 Criterion release)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Czechoslovakia's official submission to 38th Academy Award's Foreign Language in 1966. See more »


Antonin Brtko: What can I do? What? I'm nobody. A zero.
See more »


Referenced in Na plovárne: Episode dated 12 January 2006 (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Film brilliantly combines comedy and tragedy in tale of moralresponsibility.
23 March 2001 | by (Pennsylvania) – See all my reviews

This movie is one of my all-time favorites. It depicts a lazy, self-interested "everyman" caught up in a personal struggle of good and evil. The directors/writers question the moral responsibility of genocide, as smalltown Czechs under Nazi domination respond to their Jewish neighbors. Jews are no longer allowed to own shops, so their businesses' control and ultimate ownership is turned over to Christians -- namely, Nazi sympathizers. One such Christian, brother-in-law of a high-ranking official, is given a button shop, owned by a deaf, elderly Jewish woman, who is not even aware that there is a war going on. Due to her deafness, she has the innocence of a child. The Christian overseer finds that the shop makes no money whatsover, but also learns that the Jewish community supports the old woman and will pay him a salary to watch over her. What develops is a platonic love story between the two, hilariously funny due to the old woman's inability to comprehend the impending doom around her, and her assistant's struggle to shield her from harm while concerned with self-preservation. The movie works on numerous levels -- as a love story, including dreamlike fantasy elements of a bygone world where Nazi horrors don't exist; and as a tale of ultimate moral responsibility. It is a story of basically good people, who say nothing, see nothing, hear nothing, and do nothing when genocide threatens their neighbors, and who thus enable genocide to occur. The brilliant combination of hysterically funny scenes set against a background of impending mass murder brings this film to a life that is lacking in most humorless holocaust-oriented films. The laughter through tears produces an ultimate impact that is emotionally devastating. This film justly received an Oscar for Best Foreign Film when it was released. It was produced during a brief high point of the Czech film industry, prior to Russia's reconquering of the country and squelching any artistic freedom. All the performers are exceptional, particularly the two leads. (After the Russian takeover, actress Ida Kaminski emigrated to New York and attempted to revive the Yiddish Theatre.)

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