Joel Lehtonen's 1919-1920 novel Putkinotko belongs among the established classics of Finnish literature, so an eventual movie version was no surprise in the 1950s. Like the book, all of the film's plot takes place within one summery day in a place called Putkinotko on the shore of lake Saimaa in the early 20th century. Juutas and Rosina Käkriäinen (Matti Lehtelä and Elina Saarnio) are poor sharecroppers struggling to feed their ten children, so they run a liquor selling business on the side. During the day the film is set in, Rosina makes a trip to Savonlinna and the Käkriäinens' landlord Muttinen (Pentti Viljanen) pays a visit to their home. The family's kids spend their time strolling around the fields, but an older daughter Saara (Ritva Juhanto) has her own worries regarding her service at a local steam ferry.
Due to the story taking place within such short period of time, the film is not very plot-driven and focuses on the earthy atmosphere instead. The gorgeous scenery provides a wonderfully beautiful backdrop for the events; the vast, open skies, the wavy lake and forest-covered hills are paid a lot of attention to by the director and cinematographer as evident right from the opening shots. On the other hand, the folksy characters don't have time to pay attention to the scenery, as their time goes to everyday chores like minding the quarreling kids or working on the fields (or often just slacking off, in Juutas' case). The performances are loud and not far from overt exaggeration, but pretty fun to follow anyway. Particularly Elina Saarnio gets to roam freely in the role of the spirited Rosina, but Sylva Rossi is also good as Rosina's equally bold sister-in-law Pertta. Matti Lehtelä makes a calm Juutas, while Lasse Pöysti, best known as Olli in the "Suomisen perhe" movies, is pretty funny in the role of the family's slow-witted son Malakias.
Besides the photography and the acting, the score by Tapio Ilomäki is worth a mention as well. In spite of the strong comedic tendencies, the story carries a feel of worry about future and mostly maintains a good balance between comedy and drama, so in the end af Hällström's Putkinotko is a very easily watchable film adaptation, even if a lot of material from the novel has reportedly been dropped.
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