6.4/10
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10 user 4 critic

Balalaika (1939)

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)

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

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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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: Peter! He'll have you jailed!
Prince Peter Karagin, aka Peter Teranda: That's where I sing the best!
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Russian National Anthem
Composer unknown
Sung by the audience at the opera house
See more »

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User Reviews

OK Minor MGM Musical
24 March 2016 | by GManfredSee all my reviews

"Balalaika" is strictly for fans of Hollywood's Golden Age. If you are one, it's got a great cast of character actors you will recognize pretty quickly and you will appreciate the singing of Nelson Eddy and Ilona Massey. If you appreciate good acting, Eddy is passable and Massey, not so. He is his usual limited self but she comes across as cold and humorless, which is the polar opposite of Jeanette MacDonald.

The storyline is thin and unconvincing, sort of like "The Student Prince"; he is royalty, she is not, so he passes himself off as a peasant to win her hand. An interesting aspect of the picture is that it treats the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the dissolution of the upper class. Here, many of Russian royalty end up in Paris after WWI in menial jobs, much to their sadness and chagrin. Can't recall the subject having been broached on film before.

In short, the plot is forgettable, the cast is interesting and the music carries the day. Not for younger audiences but for those of us who appreciate Hollywood's past.


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