26 April 2013 | FerdinandVonGalitzien
Herr Protazanov's Skillful Direction And Herr Ilinksy's Comic Persona
Herr Igor Ilinsky was a very famous actor in the U.S.R.R. during the 20s; although with a drama theater background, his career achieved popularity thanks to his comic roles where he played simple and clumsy heroes who triumph through sheer stubbornness in spite of many complications. Herr Ilinsky's silent career as a comedian was linked to Herr Yakov Protazanov; he worked with the Russian film director in many of his 20s comedies either in the lead or supporting roles. These hilarious comedies stand out in a film industry pervaded by political propaganda.
In "Zakroyshchik Iz Torzhka" (1925) ( The Tailor From Torzhok ), Herr Ilinsky plays the role of Petya, a small-town tailor who works in "The Widow Shirinkina & Co.", a tailor workshop where he is the partner of the plump, greedy old widow Frau Shirinkina,. The shop specializes in both uniforms and civilian clothes.
In the same small-town there is Herr Semizhilov, a skinny, greedy old widower who owns a grocery shop; he has a young niece, Frau Katya, who works for him as a domestic servant. He abuses and beats her frequently. Frau Katya and Herr Petya are in love but their romance is complicated when the widow Shirinkina is encouraged by her witchy friends to marry her partner. Needless to say Petya is not happy. Fortunately, the tailor buys a winning lottery ticket and, after many misunderstandings, his dream comes true.
Herr Protazanov's silent comedies, although considered minor oeuvres in his film career, are very remarkable ones for their regional backgrounds ( sincere portraits of small-town and urban life ) and classicism in film narrative. He is of course obliged to put some political content into the movie but it doesn't get in the way of the humor in this very funny film.
"Zakroyshchik Iz Torzhka", was actually commissioned as publicity for the sake of the State Lottery Loan. We also have the shop-keeper complaining about a "damned" cooperative set down in front of his shop that he feels will ruin his business. There is also a small-town Trade Union Bureau set up to deal with the exploitation of domestic servants; thanks to this Frau Katya becomes aware that she's not a serf and that working conditions under from Czarist times are gone( put an aristocratic sigh here ).
The most evident political propaganda in the film is when Sunday voluntary workers ( Voskresnik ) launch a flying propaganda campaign in the small-town, namely a kite, that says "religion is opium for the masses". None of these political references reduce the artistry and humor of the film, a perfect combination of Herr Protazanov's skillful direction and Herr Ilinksy's comic persona.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must buy a winning lottery ticket.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/