Aug 262007

Tonight we finished watching the 1968 film, The Diamond Arm.

So how does one make a comedy film about a diamond smuggling ring, complete with slapstick, but in which the police and other authorities all are competent, virtuous and likable people? Believe it or not, it can be done! If you were a filmmaker in Soviet Russia in 1968, you could find a way to do it.

Netflix has this description:

One of the most beloved Russian comedies, this eccentric farce from celebrated director Leonid Gaidai — based on a true story he read in the newspaper — concerns a criminal operation that smuggles gold and diamonds inside a plaster arm cast. Modest economist Semyon Gorbunkov and a swindler named The Count embark on a wild series of smuggling adventures peppered with comic dialogue that spawned several popular catchphrases.

I don’t think it will be one the most beloved comedies for my wife and me, but it was interesting to watch, just the same. One reason was to see how they could manage humor without hitting any sacred cows.

It was also a good movie for sometimes giving me the impression that my Russian is coming along nicely. There were places where I could anticipate what was being said, or where I could tell that the subtitles were definitely not a literal translation. But I missed a lot, too. There were plenty of places where I understood nothing.

One Netflix reviewer, possibly someone from Russia, said:

This is one of the best russian musical comedies. Gaidai is at his best poking fun at soviet propaganda, that was fed to people going to foreign country.

I don’t think I caught much of that poking of fun. So maybe my Russian learning has a long ways to go. I guess I know where a little of that fun was, but for social commentary this was definitely nothing like Eldar Ryasanov’s films.


  • ///I guess I know where a little of that fun was, but for social commentary this was definitely nothing like Eldar Ryasanovs films.///

    Oh, I’m afraid you miss a lot of “social” jokes in Brilliantovaya ruka. For example:

    Nonna Mordyukova’s character say:

    “Our people don’t rent a taxi to go in baker shop!” (“Nashi lyudi na taksi v bulochnuyu ne ezdyat’!”).

    “Our people” mean “decent Soviet people”. The taxi is extravagance, “bourgeois” transport. If someone rent a taxi to go in shop – to buy the bread, so he is suspicious man and, perhaps, has the illegal income.

    It became the proverbial phrase like many ones from this film.