6.4/10
266
10 user 4 critic

Balalaika (1939)

Approved | | Musical, Romance | 29 December 1939 (USA)
A Russian prince disguised as a worker and a cafe singer secretly involved in revolutionary activities fall in love.

Director:

Reinhold Schünzel (as Reinhold Schunzel)

Writers:

Leon Gordon (screenplay), Charles Bennett (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nelson Eddy ... Prince Peter Karagin, aka Peter Teranda
Ilona Massey ... Lydia Pavlovna Marakova
Charles Ruggles ... Nicki Popoff (as Charlie Ruggles)
Frank Morgan ... Ivan Danchenoff
Lionel Atwill ... Prof. Marakov
C. Aubrey Smith ... Gen. Karagin
Joyce Compton ... Masha (Lydia's maid)
Dalies Frantz ... Dimitri Marakov
Walter Woolf King ... Capt. Michael Sibirsky
Phillip Terry ... Lt. Smirnoff
Frederick Worlock ... Ramensky
Abner Biberman ... Leo Proplinski
Arthur W. Cernitz Arthur W. Cernitz ... Capt. Sergei Pavloff
Roland Varno ... Lt. Nikitin
George Tobias ... Slaski (bartender)
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Storyline

Prince Peter Karagin, an officer in the Cossack army, sees and hears lovely Lydia Marakova in the cafe Balalaika in St. Petersburg and wants to meet her. When he hears she likes to fraternize with a lower class of people, he gives a student 50 rubles for his clothing. She eventually accepts his persistant presence and they fall in love. Peter uses his influence to get Lydia an audition at the opera house, where she is hired and is scheduled to perform later. The Prince, however, is not aware that she, her father and brother are part of a revolutionary movement. Their mutual deception is quickly shattered when Peter and the Cossacks violently break up a revolutionary rally in the public square, where Lydia's brother is killed. Soon afterwards, she learns that the rebels plan to assassinate Peter and his uncle, General Karagin, at the opera house on opening night, and still in love, she warns Peter not to go to the performance. He cancels the reservations, but General Karagin decides to... Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

(Where There's Wine, Women and Song!) (original posters) See more »

Genres:

Musical | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 December 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Balalajka See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$362,700, 31 January 1940
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film's initial telecast in Los Angeles took place Thursday 21 November 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), followed by Philadelphia Thursday 13 February 1958 on WFIL (Channel 6); in San Francisco it first aired 8 July 1959 on KGO (Channel 7), and, finally, in New York City, 17 May 1961 on WCBS (Channel 2). See more »

Quotes

Lydia Pavlovna Marakova: Sorry, I can't afford to meet you again.
Prince Peter Karagin, aka Peter Teranda: Oh what a woman!
See more »

Connections

Featured in From the Ends of the Earth (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Carmen
Written by Georges Bizet
Excerpts sung by Nelson Eddy and Ilona Massey
See more »

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User Reviews

 
not great, not awful
4 June 2015 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

In "Balalaika," Nelson Eddy plays Prince Peter Karagin, an officer in the Cossack army. One night he sees the beautiful Lydia Marakova, who sings in a St. Petersburg café.

Lydia is truly of the people, not one to like royalty, so he poses as a voice student in order to meet her. He wins her over.

In fact, Lydia, her father, and her brother are part of a revolutionary movement. When Peter and his Cossacks break up a rally and her brother is killed, both learn the truth about one another. However, Lydia is still in love with him. When she learned that the rebels were going to assassinate Peter and his uncle at the opera house on her opening night, she tells him not to come, that she will be too nervous with him and his uncle there.

On stage, just as she feels she can relax because they're not there, they show up in their opera box. In the middle of the opera, war with Germany is announced.

Not much of a movie - Massey is lovely, kind of a cross between the young, stunning Zsa Zsa Gabor and Scarlett Johansson -- but in order to play opposite the wooden and unexciting Eddy, you need Jeannette McDonald's fire and sparkle. What Eddy had going for him, besides good looks, was one of the greatest voices in film, and he sings here like an absolute dream. Massey had a pretty voice, but her top was screechy, and in the first number she sings, she's flat.

The rest of the cast is good - Lionel Atwill, Frank Morgan, Charles Ruggles, and C. Aubrey Smith, all top pros.

Mildly entertaining, notable for Eddy's vocals.


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