"Pogon B" is a muscular Socialist version of a Howard Hawks film
"Pogon B" by Vojislav Nanovic is one of Yugoslav films made in the fifties that tackled the subject of industrialization and the accompanying social changes. "Pogon B" is just one of such titles - it is a companion piece to Jovan Zivanovic's "Zenica" and "Te noci" while Bulajic's "Uzavreli grad" is more of a psychological study of such social changes.
"Pogon B" is obviously derived from American B-pictures about macho professionals handling difficult and dangerous jobs. Some Howard Hawks works come to mind as an important influence.
Hawks' films were set in a capitalist environment while "Pogon B" is set in Socialist Yugoslavia. Thus it is very interesting to see how Nanovic shifts certain focal points of the story. In Hawks' films the main character is a pro facing extreme demands from the owner or maybe even the threat of losing the job if the work isn't done. In Nanovic's film, workers in an oil plant will merely be reassigned if their recent oil well fails to deliver crude. Thus, their passion for oil rigging is purely personal - it is not defined by any kind of economic pressure and there is no class struggle between the blue collar workers and their white collar CEOs. To the contrary, CEOs are treated as villains simply because they are too bureaucratic and laid back while workers bring an outstanding passion to the oil business.
Nanovic preserves Hawks' sense of strong homoerotic bonds among the male characters. Nanovic and Hawks start off with bromancing characters but the by the end of the film, each of one of the machos decides to move on to the next oil well instead of staying with his designated lady that he romanced during the course of the picture. Such homoerotic undertones are present in Zivanovic's "Te noci" that is quite similar to "Pogon B".
Of course, Hawks' characters are motivated by something more than money, they also bring personal initiative and passion to the job but in a completely different macro-economic climate. On one hand, Nanovic's film can be perceived as a direct critique of Socialist management but it can also be understood as glorification of such system since it is able to bring out creativity of an individual even in the toughest of jobs.
Nanovic is also under influence of Cluzot's "Wages of Fear" and he showcases that fascination in a very suspenseful sequence of oil rig fire.
"Pogon B" is a very solid and muscular Yugoslav film in hawksian tradition that happens to age very well.
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