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Life's Hardy Men (1986)
"Elämän vonkamies" (original title)

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A curious and stubborn boy Kalle has to grow up fast in northern Finland in the 1920s. When his lumberjack father gets ill, Kalle has to take his place as a provider for the family.



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Credited cast:
Martti Kainulainen ...
Pirjo Leppänen ...
Teuvo Remes ...
Tapio Remes ...
Jenni Tyni ...
Mirjami Ahonen ...
Juho Väisänen ...
Matti Tuominen ...
Timo Pylkkänen ...
Veikko Tiitinen ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Vera Jankin ...
Apteekkarin vaimo
Soli Labbart ...
Aale Mantila
Jarkko Peuraniemi
Heikki Sova


A curious and stubborn boy Kalle has to grow up fast in northern Finland in the 1920s. When his lumberjack father gets ill, Kalle has to take his place as a provider for the family.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

31 October 1986 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Juuret Iijoen törmässä  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


Päätalo scholar Paula Virras finalized the screenplay and served as an assistant director for the film until her death in a car accident in 1985 when the film was still in production. See more »


Followed by Lumberjacking (1988) See more »


Virsi 301 / 'Kirkasta oi Kristus meille'
Composed by Frans Petter Krank
Lyrics by Gustaf Skinnari and Väinö Havas
See more »

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User Reviews

Kalle Päätalo: the childhood years

This movie takes us to 1920's in Northern Finland.There a boy called Kalle Päätalo, who grew up to be a writer, lives with his family.They spend their lives in total poverty, so Kalle has to start working at a young age.Elämän Vonkamies (1986) is the second last movie of Mikko Niskanen (1929-1990).It's based on the novel series Juuret Iijoen Törmässä by Kalle Päätalo.Niskanen knew a lot about the life Kalle describes in his books.Mikko, who also grew in the country, had to work hard.Kalle Päätalo is played by two boys.Teuvo Remes plays Kalle at age 7 and Tapio Remes is Kalle at 13.Very good job from both of them.Martti Kainulainen does excellent work as Hermanni Päätalo.Pirjo Leppänen is terrific as Riitu Päätalo.Matti Tuominen is amazing as Hiltu-Jakki.Timo Pylkkänen is great as Arvi.Great job by Aale Mantila, who plays Korpelan Isäntä, or Satusetä.I just saw this movie on Christmas Eve.Before that I had seen it in early 2008 and sometime in the 90's.It's a very well made movie of Päätalo's life as a child.It can be funny at some points.I especially liked the oven building episode.The oven man's slowness makes Hermanni Päätalo curse quite a bit.And listening to Hiltu-Jakki makes you chuckle.And it can be also dramatic, which comes up in the poverty of this family, the hardship in life.And also the approaching mental illness of father Herkko.This is a very realistic portrayal of one boy's life.

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