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The Cossacks (1928)

A peace-loving Cossack chooses to prove himself in battle when his village and childhood sweetheart label him a coward.


George W. Hill, Clarence Brown (uncredited)


John Colton (titles), Frances Marion (adaptation) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview:
John Gilbert ... Lukashka
Renée Adorée ... Maryana
Ernest Torrence ... Ivan
Nils Asther ... Prince Olenin Stieshneff
Paul Hurst ... Sitchi
Dale Fuller ... Ulitka - Maryana's Mother
Mary Alden ... Lukashka's Mother
Josephine Borio Josephine Borio ... Stepka
Yorke Sherwood Yorke Sherwood ... Uncle Eroshka
Joseph Marievsky Joseph Marievsky ... Turkish Spy (as Joseph Mari)


Lukashka is the son of a fierce Cossack chief, but he would rather relax in the woods or flirt with his sweetheart Maryana than go to battle with the neighboring Turks. However, his life changes when he is publicly humiliated by his fellow villagers and rejected by Maryana, who regard him as a coward. Overnight, Lukashka proves himself a capable warrior to prove them all wrong, impressing his father and Maryana; however, when she tries to apologize for her cruel treatment of him, he ignores her, even though he is still in love with her. Matters get complicated when the Tsar's son comes to village in search of a bride and sets his eyes on Maryana. And then there's still the Turks to contend with... Written by cupcakes

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Stirring romance, hard riding, desperate fighting with the Cossacks playing their game of war and chivalry. A mighty picturization of Count Leo Tolstoi's famous novel of the same name. See more »









Release Date:

23 June 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Kosaken See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(DVD) | (New York opening)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film was originally to have been directed by Viktor Tourjansky, but it took such a long time getting the script together that he moved on to another project. George W. Hill then took over, but the studio was dissatisfied with the way it turned out. Clarence Brown was brought in and wound up reshooting almost all of it. See more »


Ulitka - Maryana's Mother: Idler! Flower picker! Woman man!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Turner Classic Movies broadcast this film in a new High-Def edition on June 1, 2014 with new orchestra score by Robert Israel. See more »


Version of Kavkasiuri ambavi (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

John Gilbert & Renee Adoree, together yet again.
4 February 1999 | by AnniePSee all my reviews

They made a lot of movies together, and this one is no "Big Parade", but it's worth seeing. The scenery is gorgeous, the wardrobes are great, the humour is as fresh today as it was when they all put on those big fur hats and saddled up.

It's the story of one Cossack leader's son who will not go to war. Lukashka, (Gilbert)loves simply to live - he finds delight in the small things that surround him. He is taunted by his father,and humiliated by the other young men in the village, who (naturally) view war as a rite of passage, and simply the Thing That A Man Does, or he is no man. His childhood sweetheart, Mariana (Adoree)loves him, but being a simple girl, would like it better if he were like the rest.

Taunted beyond bearing, Lukashka wins his scar when men from the neighboring town steal horses under cover of night. Thereafter, the men laud him, the woman make over him, and Mariana, who had her chance, is ignored, but so pointedly that we know he still loves her madly. There is an amusing scene where she runs after him on horseback, echoing the fabulous troop truck scene in "Parade" when she falls in the dust, clutching his shoe.

In the course of the misunderstanding, she is betrothed to an aristocrat; Lukashka comes to find her, but it is too late: she has given her word. A beautiful love scene, making titles unnecessary, ensues, but nothing can change. It is too late. She has given her word, though we can see her heart is breaking.

Terrible things happen before they can be together again. The torture scene is brutal, too realistic for me when I saw it. It seemed his hands WERE burning! It is the vogue to be facile now about silent film, to see the stories as hackneyed because now, after 70 years, we think we have invented sophistication. Pay attention to this story. There is a subtlety that many stories made today miss completely.

This is a good story - it's entertainment, and that was always the point. It's also a chance to see John Gilbert play opposite his most sympathetic leading lady, Renee Adoree, a lovely, wide-hipped girl with magic, at least when she played against him.

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