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Pie bagatas kundzes (1969)

A painfully ironic story about life in Latvia in 1920s. A poor girl falls in love with an unemployed teacher of French.


Leonids Leimanis


Leonids Leimanis, Andrejs Upit (novel)


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Credited cast:
Eduards Pavuls ... Olgerts Kurmis
Liga Liepina Liga Liepina ... Emma Karkls
Karlis Sebris ... Fridis
Luijs Smits Luijs Smits ... Kalnkajas
Zigrida Stungure ... Eva
Velta Line ... Housemaid
Lilija Zvigule Lilija Zvigule ... Emma's mother
Rudolfs Kreicums Rudolfs Kreicums ... Emma's father
Valdemars Zandbergs ... Worker (as Valdemar Sandberg)
Olga Lejaskalne ... Emma's friend
Juris Lejaskalns Juris Lejaskalns ... Restaurant worker
Arturs Dimiters ... Police officer
Evalds Valters ... Policeman
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Peteris Cepurnieks
Arturs Kalejs Arturs Kalejs


Riga, 1930. Educated unemployed Olgerts, who knows English, French and Latin, works different types of casual jobs. Together with his friend, tramp Fridis, they sometimes work for small entrepreneurs the Kalnkajas family. Mr.Kalnkaja dreams of becoming member of parliament. Olgerts feel responsible for the fate of Emma, who has just come out of prison. He helps to get her a maid's position in the Kalnkaja household. Helping her new acquaintances with Kalnkaja Party election posters, Emma is arrested for a "political matter". Written by Rudmatis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama



Official Sites:

Movie Museum [Latvia]


Soviet Union



Release Date:

8 September 1969 (Soviet Union) See more »

Also Known As:

Emme und die reichen Herrschaften See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Rigas Kinostudija See more »
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Technical Specs


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User Reviews

An excellent Communist social drama
21 October 2017 | by georgekaplan2See all my reviews

This is an excellent Latvian Soviet social drama by Latvian screen-legend Leonisds Leimanis set in the Great Depression-era Riga. Though a thoroughly Communist film (the historical context of the film seems to have gone totally unnoticed for the previous reviewer) in a semi-dated realist style, the film's skillful execution and good actors make it a highly enjoyable humanist, though still anti- democratic, tragicomedy.

The scenario of the film stands out from your standard Socialist Realist text for the fact that the novel on which it is based was penned by Latvian writer Andrejs Upīts in 1937, three years before the Sovietization of independent Latvia. This was the time when Latvian leftists, like their contemporaries in the West, were writing imaginative social novels that became the fore-bearers of postwar Neo-Realism, something quite different from the Soviet boilerplate odes on Stalin and the kolkhozes. The film is also an interesting historical document on the ways the interwar democratic republic was allowed and encouraged to be represented in the late 1960s USSR. The film mocks multiparty state and the parliamentary system, makes all Latvian students look fascist and Latvian police their tool - a horrible pseudo-historical disinformation. The party's are rarely mentioned by name, only identified by numbers to delegitimize them and their promises and probably in order not to remind the audience the benefits of pluralistic representative democracy. Clearly, there is one unmentioned party the people should be voting for.. Ironically, at the time of its setting and the writing of the novel, the USSR was the most violent state on earth, starving to death 6 million Ukrainian peasants, deporting hundreds of thousands of "kulaks", and beginning its carnival of show trials and deadly purges against the "enemies of the people" from high party bosses and military leaders to urban prostitutes and vagrants.

The film seems semi-dated, because it reminds one films of the era of its base-novel. A comparison with Ford's Grapes of Wrath could be in order. Yet, the film has also elements of both Neo-Realism and New Wave and it ends with a shot straight out of Truffaut. This is a highly recommended Soviet Latvian drama film, not only for its crafty execution, but also for what it reveals about Communist propaganda and its critique of an open society at the dawn of stagnation.

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