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The Twelve Chairs (1970)

GP | | Comedy | 28 October 1970 (USA)
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1:30 | Trailer

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In 1920s Soviet Russia, a fallen aristocrat, a priest and a con artist search for a treasure of jewels hidden inside one of twelve dining chairs, lost during the revolution.

Director:

Mel Brooks

Writers:

Ilya Ilf (novel) (as Ilf), Yevgeni Petrov (novel) (as Petrov) | 3 more credits »
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ron Moody ... Vorobyaninov
Frank Langella ... Ostap Bender
Dom DeLuise ... Father Fyodor
Andréas Voutsinas ... Nikolai Sestrin (as Andreas Voutsinas)
Diana Coupland Diana Coupland ... Madam Bruns
David Lander David Lander ... Engineer Bruns
Vlada Petric Vlada Petric ... Sevitsky
Elaine Garreau Elaine Garreau ... Claudia Ivanovna
Robert Bernal Robert Bernal ... Curator
Will Stampe Will Stampe ... Night Watchman
Bridget Brice ... Young Woman
Nicholas Smith ... Actor in Play
Rada Djuricin Rada Djuricin ... Actress in Play
Branka Veselinovic Branka Veselinovic ... Natasha
Mladen 'Mladja' Veselinovic Mladen 'Mladja' Veselinovic ... Peasant (as Mladja Veselinovic)
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Storyline

A treasure hunt. An aging ex-nobleman of the Czarist regime has finally adjusted to life under the commisars in Russia. Both he and the local priest find that the family jewels were hidden in a chair, one of a set of twelve. They return separately to Moscow to find the hidden fortune. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The man who made 'Blazing Saddles' and 'Young Frankenstein' brings you his funniest comedy ever... See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

28 October 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The 12 Chairs See more »

Filming Locations:

Adriatic Sea See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ostap Bender proved such a popular character that although Vorobyaninov slits his throat with a razor and apparently kills him at the end of the original TWELVE CHAIRS novel (an ending NOT used in the film), authors Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov brought him back for more comedic adventures in the sequel THE GOLDEN CALF (1931). See more »

Goofs

Vorobyaninov's "cancellation" stamp places the event in summer 1927. A street sign shows Trotsky's name crossed off, but he was not expelled from the Communist Party until that fall. See more »

Quotes

Tikon: It's an old-age home for wery old ladies. They tippy-toe in, they have a little bowl of porridge and...
[he blows a raspberry]
Tikon: that's it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits the title of the movie is showed in Russian first (even with a typographic error 'Dvenadzat' stchlyev'), then it changes into the english title. The same happened at the end of the credits with the words "The end" (Konez), first cames the Russian word, than the english translation. See more »


Soundtracks

Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst
Music by Johannes Brahms ("Hungarian Dance No. 4 in F# minor") and lyrics by Mel Brooks
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Welcome to Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and TXXXXsky Street
3 August 2006 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

It is the forgotten Brooks movie. Probably because it has the most controlled script story, and had the least wild, satyric inventiveness of any of his films.

After he wrote and directed the original THE PRODUCERS, Brooks did not do another film for a few years. The second one was this one set in the post-Russian Revolution period in the Soviet Union. Ron Moody (Fagin in the musical OLIVER) is a minor Tsarist nobleman who discovers, when attending his mother-in-law on her death bed, that she hid her fortune in jewelry in one of the dining room chairs. There were a set of twelve chairs, and they were appropriated by the government to be given to deserving members of the proletariat. Moody discovers that his mother-in-law did confess this to one person besides him: the local Russian Orthodox Priest (Dom DeLuise). Moody finds the latter a difficult opponent to beat to the fortune first. By chance he falls in with a young swindler (Frank Langella) and he and Langella pursue the chairs, and also send DeLuise on a wild goose chase following a second set of similar chairs.

What we get is a view of the Soviet Union in 1928, as the Civil Wars died out and the regime consolidated power. Trotsky's name is now dismissed (as a street shows). The stage is dominated by the state oriented drama that is anti-capitalist. Witness the performance of Andreas Voutsinas - the original "Carmen Ghia" in the first PRODUCERS, as the government backed manager of the theater group that Moody and Langella join. There is a life and death threat behind comments he gives to one of the stage crew he controls. We also see how the common people try to cope with the changes - being sent across country on government sponsored jobs - to houses that the government may furnish.

Brooks has his first role in his own films in this one - as Tikhon, the drunken, ex-servant of Moody. He receives a slap from the latter, and considers it exactly like a hug.

Like IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD, THE TWELVE CHAIRS looks at the antics people will go through for hidden wealth. Langella, who is a street criminal anyway, is the only sane member of the three treasure seekers. He is a realist (the first really serious one in Brooks' films), and has adapted to the new conditions fairly easily by living on his considerably keen wits. He realizes that he is hampered as well as helped by his alliance with Moody, but manages to figure out how to live with Moody as best as possible. Moody has become a bureaucrat to survive in the new regime (he's suspect as an aristocrat), but he still has his pretenses. It takes the events he shares with Langella for him to finally give up his pretenses. Together both men find out what is really worthwhile about living. DeLuise is less lucky. He just discovers the perils of being a loner.


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