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 6,064 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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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  »

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Technical Specs


| (2001 Criterion release)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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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 »


Featured in The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

The Ideology of Terror
22 July 2004 | by (Halifax, NS) – See all my reviews

Objective aethetics can sometimes require background information in order to properly judge a piece of art. In the case of this film, it is essential to realize that the film was made under heavy communist censorship. Thus we have plenty of anti-fascist rhetoric as well as the heroic rebel character who abound in Marxist cinema. Yet behind this facade is a devastating critique of the ideology of terror which is the foundation of not only fascism, but the communism of 1960's Eastern Europe.

There's a whole tradition of political film forced to obscure themes enough to slide them past superficial censors and into the minds of a sometimes discerning audience. It can be done by simply universalizing the themes and parallelling the setting with something the audience could recognize. But Chaplin had explored a different method with The Great Dictator, by finding the similarities between two seemingly opposite figures. Through his critique of Hitler, he took on American pomposity and brutality. It is a particularly effective method as it allows the target no way out, turning its own accusations against itself.

Much has been said about the comedy and tragedy's coexistence in this film, and it is indeed an important facet. The simple reason being that life is both funny and tragic, thus to universalize the themes so that any person can be in the Brtko's place, it is imperative to represent both spheres of life.

But the theme is not limited to a broad contemplation on life in the universal sense. There is a much more devestating critique of all totalitarian ideologies. Brtko begins with a simple and, one could argue, natural sense of survival. He is pushed into greed by his wife, and is then pushed into desperation by the his state-sanctioned duty. He finally arrives into a complete state of terror caused by the irrationality of the events around him, and heightened by his relationship with Mrs. Lautmann. Of course, this kind of degradation could happen just as easily under a communist regime as in the days of the Nazis, and this was what the censors missed and the Academy Awards loved.

Few films have the social significance of this one. Not only for its powerful message, but the fact that it is a glimpse into a world we know little about.

5 out of 5 - Essential

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