Ladislav Rychman

[La signora dei binari] Int. tit.: The Lady of the Lines. Alt. tit.: Lady on the Tracks. Scen.: Vratislav Blažek, Ladislav Rychman. F.: Josef Hanuš. Scgf.: Oldřich Bosák. Mus.: Jiří Bazant, Vlastimil Hála, Jiří Malásek . Int.: Jiřina Bohdalová (Marie Kučerová), Radoslav Brzobohatý (Václav Kučera), František Peterka (Bedřich Vimr), Libuše Geprtová (Kateřina Vimrová), Stanislav Fišer (mister Marek), Eva Svobodová (Božka Marková), Jan Maška (Božena’s husband). Prod.: Filmové studio Barrandov. Pri. pro.: 30 settembre 1966. 35mm. D.: 79’. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Originally an actor, screenwriter and director of ethnographic films and documentaries on Czech and Slovak artists, Ladislav Rychman began making features in 1956. As a creator of the first successful Czech musical (The Hop Pickers, 1964), two years later, he led the same team of collaborators to another film in the same genre. The Lady of the Lines tells the story of a married female tram driver, who dreams of sweet vengeance against her cheating husband by imagining herself an elegant lady, who spends painfully accumulated family savings. Screenwriter Vratislav Blažek penned the film specifically for Jirˇina Bohdalová, an actress of great comedic and dramatic talent who incarnated the character of the frustrated Marie with all the strength of her personality. The film is almost entirely set in Maria’s fantasy world, and the passage between dreams and reality is not clearly marked. The eventual return to the everyday comes as a bitter punch line: only within her dream did our heroine change into a lady and manage to fight for her husband. Her small human tragedy is exactly as it was before. The film opens and closes with the image of her husband embracing another woman. While The Hop Pickers addressed mainly young audiences, The Lady of the Lines turned to an older generation. The story is still propelled by songs and spectacular dance numbers, some of them choreographed on location throughout Prague. But the music is more traditional and the dance is not inseparably linked to the conduct of individual characters. The film is less effective in its entirety than in its details. One particularly impressive scene features the ‘neighbor chorus’ in the stairwell of our married couple’s building. Similarly to The Hop Pickers, we are in the genre of morality, this time focused on the ‘difficulties in the life of an emancipated woman’. But the skeptical ending, in its refusal to grant the audience’s desire for catharsis, casts the second accomplishment of Rychman’s creative team into the shadow of its celebrated predecessor.

Briana Cˇechová