The character of Costica Caratase is based on legendary real-life actor and theatre director Constantin Tanase. What's more, the name of the character is a composite made up of Toma Caragiu, the actor who plays Caratase, and Constantin Tanase. See more »
An overrated film, with underused great actors and historical and stylistic inaccuracies. It's not only that it vilified excessively the Iron Guard and the Germans, but its black and white script makes it a mere propagandistic speech. In fact, the Iron Guard was a political party emerged from a hugely popular civic and patriotic movement (the Legion of Archangel Michael), and its later violent excesses were not at all exceptions in that time (actually, King Carol II and some of his ministers first triggered the series of political assassinations, by the way).
Then, the great vaudeville actor Constantin Tanase, the model for this film's lead, was actually in his last years under the censorship of Soviet forces who had occupied Romania in 1944 (and who apparently even killed him for saying inconvenient truth and for mocking their barbaric behavior). Of course the film makers couldn't say that in Communist Romania in 1975, so they blamed it all on the usual scapegoats, the 'pro-Nazi' legionaries, while the Communists were the 'good guys'.
Perhaps if one takes Caratase's final, didactic monologue about freedom of speech and laughter as being aimed actually and secretly to the much longer enduring tyranny of Communism, that final scene would be bearable. Could the stylistic incongruities (onstage music and dance from the 60s and 70s) be pointing discretely to such an interpretation? But the film is still one-sided, forced, and trying too hard to be funny.
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