According to what director-writer-star Yrjö Tähtelä said in a TV interview in 2008, Topralli is a film that is not a film. As someone who has just finished watching this.. hmm.. thing.. I can attest on his behalf.
Topralli has no plot to speak of. After finishing the film, I watched the introduction where they told me that the plot was about getting the rock-pop band The Renegades to play at the 50-year party of The Record Company. This is actually more than I could figure out from the film itself.
Topralli was shot without a script, daily plan, or common sense. When a shooting day started, the pop stars turned actors didn't know whether they'd be dancing, singing or attempting to act that day. And believe me, the last part didn't really go well for all the stars. To make it worse, they had to dub all of their footage afterwards - most of it badly. There are many moments when lips move but nothing is heard and vice versa. If there ever was a "Creeping Terror meets MST3K" type Finnish film, this is it.
So, why didn't I rate this film as a 1? Well, there is one huge redeeming factor.
In Topralli you have a rare chance to see many Finnish pop stars just on the brink of future success. First and foremost there is Irwin Goodman who would break every sales record during the next 20 years with his melodic pop songs that never completely lost their protest thematics (his biggest hits being songs like Viuhahdus (Flashing), St Pauli ja Reeperbahn (St. Pauli and Reeperbahn) and Rentun Ruusu (Rose of the Scoundrel)). Songs are also given to Katri Helena, Carola and Eero and Jussi Raittinen, all of them big names in the late 1960's and some of them active even today. Small cameo roles are given to other significant national pop stars: Kirka Babitzin, Remu Aaltonen, as well as The Renegades from UK. Even Vexi Salmi, close friend and the creator of Irwin's lyrics, gets to show his face.
When I watched both the film and a short documentary with Yrjö Tähtelä, I couldn't escape the feeling that this was a tour de force for a young Vexi Salmi: first Vexi found Tähtelä at a time when Tähtelä wanted to make "the film that wouldn't be a film", then Vexi suggested that they should use pop stars instead of actors. And shrewd as Vexi is, he saw to it that his protégé, Irwin, got most songs and screen time of them all.
I don't really know whether I should recommend seeing this "film" or not. If you want to see an almost unrecognizably young Irwin Goodman long before drinking redid his face and voice, you won't be disappointed (this was my motivation for seeing it). If you want to spend a nice evening watching a good film, look elsewhere. Topralli has often been quoted as the worst Finnish film of all time, and even though I think that the star power alone is enough to not warrant it that status, you might disagree.
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