31 July 2007 | mart-45
The song of the Outskirts
The golden sweethearts of Finnish 1930s film operetta, Tauno Palo and Ansa Ikonen, take on totally different roles in this overblown melodrama, proving for a change to be strong character actors under proper director.
At the outskirts of a booming city (Helsinki), the shady world of slums lives its own isolated life, with criminals, cripples and heavily painted women of notorious morality as its inhabitants. A pure-as-snow social worker (Ansa Ikonen) is determined to make things right, but is confronted by the top dog of the slums (Tauno Palo) and most of his former mistresses. Of course, she is just a woman, so she can't resist eventually falling for the roughneck and getting involved in crime.
The settings and story are as objective as a Salvation Army sermon, but regardless of the implausible and exaggerated situations and locations (in once scene, a young woman has died and left her hubby living in a basement room the size of a closet with eight children, all seemingly of the same age!) the film is pregnant with the slimy atmosphere of the seamy underbelly of a big town. This surely is a world gone by.
The actors are over the top; especially enjoyable is Ella Eronen as the hard boiled evil top bitch, very properly called Judith (living in a Salome Alley!). This type of woman, with the looks of a hooker and the morals of a hyena, but often with a golden heart beating under the sediment of scum, is a prominent - and very enjoyable - feature of Finnish films of the immediate post-war years.