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"He Stole a Life" is the name of this Finnish film in English. I want to elaborate on the niner I gave it.
After seeing a thousand or so Finnish films I've resigned to the fact that they often seem somehow contrived or unnatural - in dialogue, acting or storywise. Comedies are either overblown and stupid or lacking in bite. The very prolific Aarne Tarkas did his share of "bush farces" as we call them in Finnish. This one is different.
The niner is because for once, the director carried the story in a strong and un-Finnish way. Everything fits together: the excellent cast, the simple story about greed and the sublime sense of black humour all make up a minor masterpiece. The film is politically incorrect in a delightful way, making fun of business people and "important" local figures. Only the police is left relatively unscathed. A small national joke was that the main policeman is played by the recently deceased Åke Lindman, who mostly acted in the roles of villains and brutes.
The onset of the Sixties can be seen in the role of Miss Penttilä. To modern eyes she looks quite innocent but at the time (1962) her body language would have been very provocative. Rose-Marie Precht was never sexier that here.
Risto Mäkelä was the Finnish Karl Malden. He was the sturdy B- or C-star of innumerable Finnish films. He had a resounding and very easily recognizable voice. He gave everything to his starring role, being the manipulative and merciless bastard you'd not believe he could act, if you'd seen him before.
The ending is a stroke of genius. If you've started to pile up bodies to hide that fact that you're a murderer, what could be worse than a large group of people witnessing what you've done - while you're still at it! This film is a true classic of Finnish film, one I could proudly play my foreign friends, provided it could be had with English subtexts.
Heck, now that I think of it, why didn't I give it a genre-specific tenner?
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