We’re heading back to Russia, kids! Specifically, we are going to be enjoying some good belly laughs, courtesy of the sparkling Russian wit.
It’s here at last! The Russia in Classic Film Blogathon is all about classic films made in Russia, set in Russia or feature talents born in Russia. Please enjoy the lovely selection of posts by talented bloggers. I’m sure you will be intrigued.
Flicker Alley is sponsoring this event in order to promote their wonderful new release, The House of Mystery. They are also having a drawing with the grand prize being a complete box set of the serial on DVD. Click here for complete rules and instructions on how to enter.
Participants: Once you complete your post, please send me a link via blog comment, Twitter (@MoviesSilently) or email. Be sure to link back to this page so that your fellow participants can be showcased. And since Flicker Alley has been doing so much to sponsor this event, it would be lovely if you give them a link back to their page for The House of Mystery.
There’s no place like home… unless it’s Paris
Russian emigres and expats making movies in exile.
Movies Silently | The House of Mystery (1923)
Silents, Please! | The Burning Crucible (1923)
Sister Celluloid | The Burning Crucible (1923)
Those Wacky Russians
Once Upon a Screen | Chess Fever (1925)
wolffian classics movie digest | Moscow Laughs (1934)
The Moon in Gemini | The Twelve Chairs (1970)
Movies Silently | The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966)
Moon in Gemini | Chess Fever (1925)
Classic Reel Girl | Silk Stockings (1957)
Random Pictures | The House on Trubnaya (1928)
Brilliant filmmaking from Russia, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Empire.
Silver Screenings | Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
MiB’s Instant Headache | Aelita, Queen of Mars (1924)
Cinematic Frontier | Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Silent-ology | Russian posters of the 1920s
Random Pictures | Aelita, Queen of Mars (1925)
Film Grimoire | Stalker (1979)
Silents, Please! | The Happiness of Eternal Night (1915)
Cary Grant Won’t Eat You | Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
The Movie Rat | Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Cinematic Catharsis | Aelita, Queen of Mars (1925)
Russian films co-produced with other nations.
Coolsville | Nostalghia (1983)
Shameless Pile of Stuff | Dersu Uzala (1975)
totally filmi | The Russians Are Coming: some personal reflections on Indo-Soviet co-productions
Slices of life, culture commentary, and just generally making it in the USSR or modern Russia.
Now Voyaging | Bed and Sofa (1927)
Silent Volume | Earth (1930)
Vintage Classic Scrapbook | Old and New (1929)
filmscreed | Bed and Sofa (1927)
Films based on the works (or lives) of famous authors.
Big V Riot Squad | Departure of a Grand Old Man (1912)
100 Films in a Year | The Hound of the Baskervilles (1981)
Mildred’s Fatburgers | The Brothers Karamazov (1958)
Silver Screen Modes | Crime and Punishment (1935)
Margaret Perry | Anna Karenina (1935)
The Peasants are Revolting!
Yes, and they’re rebelling too! The Russian Revolution on film.
Movies Silently | The Forty-First (1927)
Speakeasy | Scarlet Dawn (1932)
In the Gold Old Days of Classic Hollywood | Tempest (1928)
Portraits by Jenni | A Knight Without Armor (1937)
Filmi~Contrast | The Forty-First (1956)
The Great Patriotic War
Russia in World War Two.
Moving Image Source | Mission to Moscow (1943)
Ramblings of a Cinephile | Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…
Adventure and escapism.
A Modern Musketeer | Soviet adventure and comedy GIF set
The Movie Rat | Peter and the Wolf (1946)
MiB’s Instant Headache | Vasilisa the Beautiful (1939)
Big V Riot Squad | Miss Mend (1926)
Mildred’s Fatburgers | Miss Mend (1926)
The Last Goddess | The Russian Soul in Marlene Dietrich’s Flicks
Flights, Tights & Movie Nights | Black Lightning (2009)
I gave my life for the czar and all I got was this lousy fur hat.
Costume films set in Russia of the past.
Timeless Hollywood | The Eagle (1925)
The Hitless Wonder | The Scarlet Empress (1934)
Phyllis Loves Classic Movies | The Emperor’s Candlesticks (1937)
Pre-Code.com | Rasputin and the Empress (1932)
Critica Retro | Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible films
MovieFanFare | Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965)
Performers and other talented film folk born in Russia, the Russian Empire or the USSR.
Movie Classics | Anna Sten
Sister Celluloid | George Sanders (yes, that George Sanders)
Caftan Woman | Maria Ouspenskaya
Bunnybun’s Classic Movie Blog | Tom Conway (yes, him too)
Silver Scenes | Felix Bressart
Girls Do Film | Sonia Dulaunay: Craft, Costume & Collaboration
Century Film Project | Evgeni Bauer
Silver Scenes | Leonid Kinskey
And Jo of The Last Drive In sent over a GIFt from The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom.
The Russia in Classic Film Blogathon has a sponsor! Yes, really! Flicker Alley has signed on to help make the event bigger, better and more exciting.
Flicker Alley is one of the best purveyors of silent/early/independent cinema on the block. I have been a loyal fan of the company since their very first releases and I am not alone. I am very excited to be working with them.
The timing of the Russia in Classic Film Blogathon happily coincided with Flicker Alley’s upcoming release, in collaboration with the Blackhawk Films® collection, of the Russo-French serial, The House of Mystery. Never heard of it? I got a sneak peek–I will be reviewing it for the blogathon– and I won’t reveal all but I will say that I was thoroughly blown away. (You can read about the film, see stills and get more information here.) If you are a fan of Louis Feuillade, you will be on cloud nine. If you are a fan of a really good mini-series, you will be in seventh heaven. If you just like movies, you will be enchanted.
(What do I mean by Russo-French? Well, when the Bolsheviks took over, a good portion of the top Russian film talent hightailed it for Paris where they set up shop and made wildly entertaining movies. They mixed crowd-pleasing comedy and spectacle with cutting-edge film technique and the result was cinematic brilliance. The legendary Ivan Mosjoukine was their biggest star and he is the leading man of The House of Mystery.)
In addition, Flicker Alley ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to finance a new line of manufactured-on-demand (MOD) DVDs from the Blackhawk Films® collection. Several of the titles slated for release are Soviet classics. Once again, the timing coincides with the blogathon.
What this means for participating bloggers
This is basically like a new co-host coming aboard, only better. Flicker Alley has a devoted following among cinephiles, enjoys an excellent reputation thanks to their high-quality releases and lending their name to the event adds to its prestige. Plus, they will be promoting the event on their various social media accounts. Just snag yourself a new and improved banner (found below), sit back and enjoy the extra publicity for the event and your post.
Further, Flicker Alley will be reading your posts and will be selecting their favorites for reprint on their website, either in whole or in part. This will be done with your permission only and you will retain the copyright to your work. They will link back to your blog so this is a great way for your site to get exposure. Here is an example of how these reprints will work.
The review titles eligible for reprint:
Bed and Sofa (Soviet feature)
Chess Fever (Soviet short)
Aelita, the Queen of Mars (Soviet feature)
Man with a Movie Camera (Soviet documentary/art/experimental film)
Miss Mend (Soviet serial, an utter blast)
The Late Mathias Pascal (Russo-French feature)
The Burning Crucible (Russo-French feature)
Kean (Russo-French feature)
Gribiche (Russo-French feature)
The New Gentlemen (Russo-French feature)
Old and New (Soviet feature, Eisenstein directs)
Stride, Soviet! (Soviet documentary)
Turksib (Soviet documentary)
Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (Soviet montage documentary)
The House on Trubnaya Square (Soviet comedy, Boris Barnet AND Vladimir Fogel!)
The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (Soviet comedy)
By the Law (Soviet feature)
Salt for Svanetia (Soviet documentary)
If you wish to cover one of these or change your film of choice, please let me know. Obviously, the “no duplicates” rule is lifted for these titles. Enjoy!
(Update: If you have already signed on for the event, you can cover one of these titles either in place of your original choice or in addition to it. In short, you are free to write about as many movies as you think you can handle.
I would also like to clarify that covering these films is not a guarantee of repost and Flicker Alley will be in control of what gets reposted and when it is published on their site. Any good blogger knows that spacing out posts is a must and so there may be some delay between your post being chosen and when it shows up on the site.)
What this means for readers
In conjunction with the blogathon, Flicker Alley is going to be having a Russian-themed movie giveaway. The prizes are quite tempting:
Grand Prize: The House of Mystery 3-disc DVD Collection (full retail value, $44.95 USD)
First Runner-up Prize: A DVD copy of Aelita, the Queen of Mars (full retail value, $19.95 USD)
Second Runner-up Prize: A DVD copy of Bed And Sofa with Chess Fever (full retail value, $19.95 USD)
These prizes will ship after their release date (April at the earliest but possibly later). And since I know many of you online and some of you in real life, Flicker Alley will be handling all aspects of the contest and winner selection.
This drawing will be open to readers and participants alike but entry will be limited to residents of the United States and Canada only. Entering is easy. Just follow this link, sign on to the newsletter and you’re in like Flynn! The contest closes on the last day of the blogathon, March 10. If you are the winner, Flicker Alley will contact you via email within 30 days. Break a leg, kids!
Here are the complete rules:
Open to residents of the United States and Canada only. Void where prohibited. Contest ends March 10, 2015. Winner will be chosen at random by Flicker Alley, LLC. The winners will be notified by email within 30 days of the closing date. If the winners cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition. By submitting this form, you are granting: Flicker Alley, LLC, http://www.flickeralley.com, permission to email you. You can revoke permission to mail to your email address at any time using the SafeUnsubscribe SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email.
What this means to me
Now I have to make a confession. I have selfish motives in doing all this. Some of you may already know this but I like Russian actor Ivan Mosjoukine. And by like I mean love. And by love I mean completely adore. As stated above, The House of Mystery stars Mosjoukine and it is the second round of Mosjoukine-led releases from Flicker Alley.
I wish for this Mosjoukine renaissance to continue and I would like for him to enjoy the same name recognition and respect currently given to, say, Conrad Veidt or Lon Chaney. I want The House of Mystery‘s DVD release to be a smashing success and for it to usher in more Mosjoukine films on home media. You can see why this sponsorship is important to me.
So, please update your banners to reflect the event’s new status. If you want to be extra nice, you can give Flicker Alley a link back, just as you would for any event co-host.
Let me know if you have any questions!
There are prizes and reprint opportunities galore. The details are in the link. Enjoy!
First of all, let me say that I have returned to the land of the living! So, what’s the first thing I want to do? Host a blogathon, of course!
This idea has been rattling around my head for a while. I hope you like it. You see, I am a longtime Russophile. I am crazy about Russian culture and have been ever since I can remember. Russia and the Russians have done a ton to contribute to the richness of world cinema so let’s give them their due.
Do you think Russian films are all long, depressing and dark? Think again! While there are certainly serious films, Russians also have a wonderful sense of humor and I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised by some of their lighter offerings. If your only experience with Russian film is the interminable and decidedly un-Russian Doctor Zhivago, oh honey, let us guide you to the promised land!
Here are the basics:
All non-Russian productions must have been made in or before 1970. In order to encourage more Russian entries, I am doing something a little different: There is no date limit on films made in Russia.
No duplicates, please!
Grab a banner (they’re down at the bottom of the post) and spread the word.
(If you have any questions, don’t be shy! Ask away. Here are some tips for blogathon participation.)
Here is what you can cover:
Any movie made in Russia
Any Hollywood (or otherwise non-Russian film industry) movie that is set in Russia or features Russian characters
Any talent (before or behind the camera) who was born in Russia
Any movie made outside of Russia by expats (for example, the Albatros films)
My talent of choice was born in Ukraine/Belarus/Moldova/Georgia, do they count?
The borders of Russia have always been incredibly fluid. Still are, as recent events show. Therefore, if your talent was born in a country that was part of the Russian Empire or the USSR, no worries. Ask if you have any questions.
What about Red Scare films?
While the purpose of this event is cultural exchange, I do recognize that Red Scare films did much to form the popular view of Russians. Feel free to select a title from this genre.
My movie of choice has no Russians and is not set in Russia but some of the characters are Russian. Does this count?
Yes! Lots of Hollywood films (and the films of other countries) featured Russian characters. Your movie is welcome.
My movie of choice is not set in Russia but there is a Russian in the cast. Can I cover it?
Yes! Movies like The Magnificent Seven and My Man Godfrey, which do not cover Russian subjects, are more than welcome because major cast members were born in Russia.
My movie of choice is a co-production between Russia and another country. Is this okay?
Yes, co-productions are quite welcome and they do not have to observe to 1970-or-before date limit. Choose any film you like!
Can I write about Czar Nicholas and Anastasia?
No. Not unless you cover a film on the subject. However, I am hoping at least some participants will select films made in Czarist Russia.
Movies Silently | The Cameraman’s Revenge (1912, Russia), La Maison de Mystere (1921-23, France) and The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming! (1968, USA)
Sister Celluloid | The singing career of George Sanders and The Burning Crucible
The Movie Rat | Peter and the Wolf (1946, USA)
Flights, Tights & Movie Nights | Black Lightning (2009, Russia Чёрная Молния)
totally filmi | Mera Naam Joker (1970, India)
The Great Katharine Hepburn | Anna Karenina (1935, USA)
A Person in the Dark | The Last Command (1928, USA)
Mildred’s Fatburgers | The Brothers Karamazov (1958, USA) and Adventures of Mowgli (1973, Russia Маугли)
Shameless Pile of Stuff | Dersu Uzala (1975, Russian-Japanese co-production Дерсу Узала)
Cinematic Catharsis | Come and See (1985, Russia Иди и смотри)
Caftan Woman | A piece on Maria Ouspanskaya
Cinematic Scribblings | The Cranes are Flying (1957, Russia Летят журавли)
Big V Riot Squad | Departure of a Grand Old Man (1912, Russia Уход великого старца)
Once Upon a Screen | Chess Fever (1925, Russia Шахматная горячка)
wolffian classic movies digest | Jolly Fellows (1934, Russia Весёлые ребята)
Carey Grant Won’t Eat You | Volga Volga (1938, Russia Волга-Волга)
Portraits by Jenni | Knight Without Armor (1937, USA)
In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood | Anastasia (1956, USA)
The Vintage Cameo | Hipsters (2008, Russia Стиляги)
Silents, Please! | The Happiness of Eternal Night (1915, Russia Счастье вечной ночи)
Moon in Gemini | The Twelve Chairs (1970, USA)
Coolsville | Nostalghia (1983, Russian-Italian co-production)
Girls Do Film | Piece on Sonia Delaunay
MIB’s Instant Headache | Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924, Russia Аэлита) and Vasilisa the Beautiful (1939, Russia Василиса Прекрасная)
The Hitless Wonder | The Scarlet Empress (1934, USA)
Filmi~Contrast | The Forty-First (1956, Russia Сорок первый)
Pre-Code.Com | Rasputin and the Empress (1932, USA)
100 Films in a Year | The Hound of the Baskervilles (1981, Russia Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона: Собака Баскервилей)
Silver Scenes | Pieces on Leonid Kinskey and Felix Bressart (Bressart is often listed as German but his birthplace falls within the borders of Russia)
Now Voyaging | Berlin Express (1948, USA)
Critica Retro | Ivan the Terrible (1944 & 1958, Russia Иван Грозный)
Silent Volume | Earth (1930, Ukraine Земля)
filmscreed | Bed and Sofa (1927, Russia Третья Мещанская)
Timeless Hollywood | The Eagle (1925, USA)
TBD | Office Romance (1977, Russia Служебный роман) and The Irony of Fate (1976, Russia Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!)
Speakeasy | Scarlet Dawn (1932, USA)
Classic Reel Girl | Silk Stockings (1957, USA)
Silver Screen Pix | British Agent (1934, USA)
Ramblings of a Cinephile | Ivan’s Childhood (1962, Russia Ива́ново де́тство)
Silver Screenings | Man with a Movie Camera
Century Film Project | Piece on Evgeni Bauer
Marlene Dietrich: The Last Goddess | Russians and Russian characters in the films of Marlene Dietrich
Movie Classics | Piece on Anna Sten
The Cinematic Frontier | Battleship Potemkin (1925, Russia)
Film Grimoire | Stalker (1979, Russia)
Silver Screen Modes | Crime and Punishment (1935)
I Love Terrible Movies | Piece on select Red Scare films
Random Pictures | Aelita: Queen of Mars and The House on Trubnaya Square
Phyllis Loves Classic Movies | The Emperor’s Candlesticks (1937)
MovieFanFare | Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965, Ukraine)
Silent-ology | Piece on Soviet film posters
Bunnybun’s Classic Movie Blog | Piece on Tom Conway
Want to participate but don’t know what to cover? Well, Russia’s most famous studio, Mosfilm, has made many of their classics available for free and legal viewing on their YouTube channel, many with English subtitles.
Or check out…
My Wish List
Films and personalities I would most like to see covered.
Miss Mend (1926) | An American serial– Russian style!
The Forty-First (1927
or 1956 versions) | She’s a Bolshevik sniper, he’s a Czarist officer. Romance?
Alexander Nevsky (1938) | The movie that invented the modern battle scene.
Destiny of a Man (1959) | Smile through the tears with the WW2 POW drama
The Ascent (1977) | A brilliant masterpiece of war and Passion (note capitalization) directed by (gasp!) a woman.
Hollywood Films set in Russia
(Remember, there is a pre-1970 date limit on non-Russian productions)
The Scarlet Empress (1934)
From Russia with Love (1963)
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
The Eagle (1925)
Knight Without Armor (1937) Peter and the Wolf (1946) Anastasia (1956)
The Expat Productions
The Burning Crucible (1923)
The Late Mathias Pascal (1926)
Michael Strogoff (1926)
George Sanders (Huh? Well, technically…)
But all Russian movies are dreary…
Well, try these, dearie!
House in Kolomna (1913)
Chess Fever (1925)
Lieutenant Kije (1934)
Volga Volga (1938)
Cinderella aka Zolushka (1947)
Film Film Film (1968)
When silent Russian cinema is mentioned, it is likely that Sergei Eisenstein will be the first name that comes up. Eisenstein was a supremely talented director and remains an important figure in world cinema but the history of film in Russia is much greater than just one man.
This month is all about celebrating the hidden corners of the Russian cinematic experience. We are going to take a look at film under the the Czar, the work of Russians in exile, the humor of Soviet productions and how Russians fared in Hollywood.
I am an enormous devotee of Russian cinema from every period. I love its rich characterizations, its astonishing cinematography, its quirky humor, its understated love stories and, most of all, its depth.
Russian characters in Hollywood films are often reduced to caricatures and unflattering ones at that. I hope you enjoy taking a trip back in time and meeting real Russians as reflected through the lens of cinema.
If you think that Russian films were all dreary and dark, I submit to you Vinni Puh, their own Winnie the Pooh. Cutest. Thing. Ever. Approximately 1,000,000,000 times better than Disney. Sorry, Disney. (Actually, not sorry. At all.)
Here are a few things that I may as well get off my chest now:
- I am spelling it “czar” and not “tsar” because I like “czar” better.
- Anastasia is dead. She died in 1918. They found the body. I’m sorry to put it so bluntly but them’s the facts. Still loved the 1956 movie, though.
- Rasputin was not a Bolshevik, nor was he an undead sorcerer with a talking bat. (That cartoon has a lot to answer for.)
- The USSR made a lot of movies. Some were propaganda films and some were not. Some were even subversive. Calling all Soviet films “propaganda pictures” is incorrect. (See cute bear cartoon above.)
- Using “Я” instead of “R” does not make your word look Russian. Я is pronounced “ya” so stop doing this. It’s overdone and unimaginative, you will look a fool and you will annoy the Yaussians.
As an appetizer, here is a selection of Russian-themed films I have already covered on the site:
Germans as Russians
French as Russians
Americans as Russians
Russians as Americans
*Yes, I realize the leads are Italian and Hungarian but the production is 100% Yankee.
More coming soon! And while you are waiting, this is what you do if you are faking your Russian language skills and run into a real live Russian:
Review #1: White Russia
A look at village life in Czarist Russia, a time capsule of a place and period that would soon disappear. Intriguing technically and rich in detail, this is also a fascinating character study. Ivan Mosjoukine was 23 when he starred in this film.
Review #2: Red Russia
Think Soviet cinema is all about serious propaganda dramas? You couldn’t be more wrong! Here is a delightful short that deals with the troubles of a zany chess addict.
Review #3: Russians in Exile
A wacky send-up of French detective films, this curious box of wonders is the work of Russian exiles in Paris. A treat from beginning to end. Ivan Mosjoukine was 34 when he wrote, directed and starred in this film.
Review #4: Russians in Hollywood
Hollywood came calling with this tale of beautiful rabbi’s daughters, Cossacks and attempted genocide. Praised to the skies by historians, does this film stand up to scrutiny? Ivan Mosjoukine was 38 when he made his journey to Hollywood.