- Bert Wheeler & Robert Woolsey: They ruled the 1930s with their comedy and musical act. In many of their movies, they played poor drifters or runaways eager for a break. The quiet and younger Wheeler played the straight guy while the sauve and pretend-sophisticated Woolsey took upon slightly crooked roles. Many of their movies had the adorable Dorothy Lee. The best movies I saw are:
- Half Shot at Sunrise
- Hook, Line and Sinker: This is my favorite of theirs because it combines comedy and the use of a machine gun (as seen in the movie DJango).
- Cracked Nuts
- Bud Abbot & Lou Costello: They were famous in the 1940s. They were vaudeville actors who moved to radio and then film and television. The fat Costello is the straight gullible guy while Bud Abbot is the scheming type. Costello is not very bright and does not understand words with more than three syllables. This creates several comedic situations in which Bud says something and Costello understands either the literal meaning or the something it sounds like. The most famous of such routines is “Who is on first”. Who or Hu is a player but Costello think he is asking a question. Then, Bud says Watt’s second and Costello thinks “What is second”. Some of their movies that I saw were:
- Pardon My Sarong
- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
- Abbott and Costello Go to Mars
- Jack and the beanstalk
- Bing Crosby and Bob Hope: Their “Road to” pictures are famous to this day. Road to Bali, Road to Hong Kong and Road to Singapore are among them. Beautiful actress Dorothy Lamour appeared in many of these movies.
- Bud Spencer & Terrence Hill: These Italian actors were famous in the 1980s and made
several films set in the US and dubbed in English to the target the larger audience worldwide. Bud Spencer is the tall fat guy and his punches seemed to pack quite a lot of power and that was one of the reasons why people all over the world turned up at cinemas to watch his films. In one movie a tough takes a thick steel road and bends it with his bare hands. Bud Spencer picks up the bent bar and straightens it with his bare hands. Top that! When not being Chuck Norris, Bud Spencer is the most nicest guy except when he has to deal with the crooked blue-eyed Terrence Hill. Because of this, he becomes a hero to all kids who get to watch his films. Bud Spencer has a website – https://en.budspencerofficial.com/ It is written in the same friendly and jovial character that he played in the movie.
- Who finds a friend, finds a treasure
- Double trouble
- Miami cops
In the grand old days when Doordarshan was the sole broadcaster, only two films were available per week – Hindi on Saturday and Tamil on Sunday. Monday morning talk invariably revolved around those two movies as everyone would have seen over the weekend. When cable TV and private TV channels started becoming popular, Doordarshan started allowing private TV groups to make their own deal with Hollywood movie libraries and advertisers. For its part, Doordarshan sometimes broadcast movies from the Soviet Union.
Cinema from the Soviet Union was not as good as Hollywood but it was good enough. The movies had a weird Marxist twist, particularly at the ending. There is a Soviet film version of the English novel Treasure Island. In the end, they do not get the treasure and return back empty-handed. Soviet cinema even had Hollywood-style Western movies. They seemed to have all the thrills of a Hollywood make but the ending was an impromptu propaganda session on Communist anti-capitalist values. This did not really matter because in the 80s and 90s, we (us kids in school) were all supporters of the Soviet Union, which was a great friend and benefactor of India.
Recently, my Internet connection improved. For the first time in my life, YouTube is playing without any lags with speeds approaching 1000 Kbps. Strangely, BSNL is providing high speeds even when I am over monthly fair-use data limit. This was drastically different from a few months ago when it really went bonkers*. Dish TV had disabled recording on my recorder set-top box. I don’t watch TV programs live like ordinary people. I watch only recorded programs. So, and I switched to watching online videos.
Mosfilm, the Soviet movie production outfit, has turned over several of its famous movies online. Here are a few of them that that I saw recently, in descending funniness order.
- Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures: A movie in 3 parts. (First and last part are safe for kids. Fast-forward for 3 minutes after 00.37). Extremely funny movie. My favorite line from the movie is the policeman saying “Dear citizens, alcoholics, hooligans and parasites..” alkogoliki, khuligany, tuneyadtsy
- Unbelievable Adventures of Italians in Russia: The movie is about a group of Italians who go to Moscow in search of a treasure buried by a dead grandma who escaped the Bolshevik revolution. I think this movie was shown on Doordarshan. I had multiple deja vus hitting me, particularly during the scene with the passenger aircraft landing on a highway. This movie has one of the best car chase scenes ever recorded in movie history. There is a scene with gratuitous 30-second nudity (obscured by a curtain) for few seconds at 01.09m which is not safe for kids. The background music is based on some famous compositions I suppose. You also get to see some famous landmarks in 1970s Moscow.
- Kidnapping, Caucasian style: The Shurik adventure continues in this movie. He helps a gang kidnap a girl thinking it is part of a local Caucasian tradition. Before he realizes his mistake, he is in the nuthouse… The most memorable part is the song by Aida Vedishcheva at (00:27m).
A little like Indian movies, many of these Russian movies feature song sequences. Here is another song of hers “Help me” set to the tune of the song Sway. The tune seems to be very popular in Russia. I heard in many of these movies.
Sway from the movie Dark City by Anita Kelsey
- Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future: Ivan The Terrible is brought to the present thanks to a scientific mishap. The guy who played Shurik, Aleksandr Demyanenko, is the scientist.
This song became an delightful ear worm.
Here is another song. Russian women are B-U-T-fool!
- Irony of fate: This 3-hour movie is supposed to be very famous and is routinely broadcast on New Year. [In order to whip up nationalistic fervour and fight the Nazis, Stalin once allied with the Church. The Commie dictator moved the birth of the Messiah to New Year Day so that Christmas celebrations could be allowed under the guise of a secular holiday.] The movie is about a guy who gets drunk in a sauna and mistakenly put on a plane going to a different city. Thanks to the uniformity of Soviet town planning, his address in Moscow has counterparts all over Russia. And, the taxi takes him to the same address in St. Petersberg and mayhem ensues.
Part – 2
- The girls: This is supposed to be a romantic comedy but it appeared a bit sad for me as I saw it without subtitles. All I can say the girl Nadezhda Rumyantseva has as much energy as a tactical nuclear weapon. The movie shows life in Communist cooperatives.
* – At that time, the Internet connection was extremely flaky, even flakier than it regularly used to be. It seemed like some monkeys were playing with the wires.. However, I turned the misfortune into something valuable. I wrote a software called NetCheck in both PC and Android versions. It provides visual or audio notification when the Net connection fails. It is now an indispensable application on my computers and phones/tablets. Interestingly, even with higher speeds, the Net connection continues to be flaky, particularly when I blogging or publishing. If I am passively downloading stuff or reading the news, the connection stays up.