A ‘double take’ – Двенадцать стульев

with the following day – TWELVE CHAIRS by Mel Brooks

a classic satirical novel (read it here) that sees its anti-heroes in

“a series of comic adventures, including living in a students dormitory with plywood walls, posing as bill painters on a riverboat to earn passage, bamboozling a village chess club with promises of an international tournament, and traveling on foot through the mountains of Georgia.”

– from Wikipedia

Leonid Iovich Gaidai

was one of the most popular Soviet comedy directors, enjoying immense popularity and broad public recognition in the former USSR & modern Russia. His movies broke theatre attendance records and are still some of the top-selling DVDs in Russia.
Between 1961 and 1975, Gaidai directed a number of top-selling movies, each one a huge financial success and becoming wildly popular in the Soviet Union. In 1971 Gaidai creates a screen version of Ilf and Petrov’s popular novel ‘Twelve Chairs’.

In the Soviet Union in 1927, a former Marshal of Nobility, Ippolit “Kisa” Vorobyaninov, works as the registrar in a sleepy provincial town. His mother-in-law reveals on her deathbed that her family jewelry was hidden from the Bolsheviks in one of the twelve chairs from the family’s dining room set. Those chairs were taken away after the Russian Revolution.
Vorobyaninov wants to find the treasure. The “smooth operator” Ostap Bender forces Kisa to become his partner, they set out to find the chairs. Bender’s street smarts and charm are invaluable to the reticent Kisa, and Bender comes to dominate the enterprise.

The film director acknowledged that this comedy turned one of his most favorite movies. Shot with a troupe of seasoned comedian friends, and almost with Vysotsky as Ostap, who went on a binge instead.
The humor of great Gaidai is timeless. His comedies are free from edifying or obtrusiveness, he easily managed to avoid hackneyed cliches and smutty jokes.

‘A cinema comedy should have as few words as possible, and those words must be laconic, sharp-cut and take an unerring aim’ – Gaidai said, and he was as good as his word.

Introduction and discussion: Natalia Rubinstein and Ludmila Razumova.

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