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Since time immemorial, the simple-minded boisterous people of Malava, a small Polish town near the border of imperial Russia, have lived on horse-stealing, horse-trading and horse-smuggling. Life changes abruptly when a Russian garrison, commanded by Captain Stoloff, occupies the town and, in the name of the Czar, requisitions all the horses for the Russian-Japanese War. With no more horses to steal, Kifke cannot afford to marry Estusha and all the young men in the village are likely to be incorporated into the Russian army. This state of affairs cannot continue and Zavill will take care of things. Written by
I'm at a loss to see how "unsubstantial" is a negative value in a comedy. Possibly the previous reviewer was more interested in director Polonsky's story than the movie.
I have always loved this film. It's one of those humanistic little gems like "Going In Style," "The Trouble With Harry'"and "Bye, Bye, Braverman." I first saw the film in 1971 and have remembered it with pleasure ever since. Fair warning: the DVD is a poor quality transfer, apparently from a VHS, with no digital enhancements. But the film is a delight and well worth your time. Lainie Kazan does, indeed, steal the show but Yul Brynner gives his Cossack a touch of gentle sadness in one of his rare restrained performances, while still offering a necessary bravado. Eli Wallach is excellent and David Opatashu displays great comic timing in the (very satisfying) finale as he impersonates a Cossack Inpector General.
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