Sog.: da un romanzo di Anatolij Rybakov. Scen.: Anatolij Rybakov, Innokentij Gomello. F.: Veniamin Levitin. Scgf.: Aleksej Rudjakov, Aleksej Fedotov. Mus.: Boris Arapov. Int.: Arkadij Tolbuzin (il commissario Polevoj), Bruno Frejndlich (Nikitskij), Volodja Šachmamet’ev (Miša Poljakov), Boris Arakelov (Genka), Nina Kračkovskaja (Valja Ivanova). Prod.: Lenfil’m. · 35mm. Bn.
Michail Švejcer and Vladimir Vengerov were something like the dream team of the era – although they only directed this one film together (quite in contrast to the official master-duo of the period, Aleksandr Alov and Vladimir Naumov who worked together till the former’s untimely death and created their fair share of masterpieces along the way – more about them next year); still, Švejcer and Vengerov remained close friends until the end of the latter’s life, even if they didn’t work for the same studio anymore and lived in different cities (while Vengerov remained at Lenfil’m, Švejcer moved on to Mosfil’m after Tugoj uzel, 1957, which had to be re-shot and re-edited at nauseam…). Both are geniuses begging for serious re-evaluation – well, in the case of the world outside Russia, one would have to speak about a total discovery (even if one or two films of Švejcer got noticed and lauded abroad in their time). Or put another way: when Marlen Chuciev was recently asked about his films from the 60s, he impatiently shook his head and said that the era’s true works of excellence were Vengerov’s Rabočij poselok (1965) and Švejcer’s Vremya, vperjod! (1966; co-director: Sofia Mil’kina) – these two were the auteurs to study… Kortik is a key work of the period: An adventure yarn for children set in the days of the revolution, with secret messages, chases and last-second rescues. The story about teenage daring when faced with a White conspiracy is party-line conformist enough (the novel was published in 1948), but the way that first Anatolij Rybakov, one of the USSR’s most beloved literary free-spirits, and then Švejcer and Vengerov dealt with it is another thing: a mixture of closely observed details from daily life and a fabulous sense of the particular pleasures of genre. Vengerov would follow this film in a similar key with Dva kapitana (1955) which would become a certifiable cult movie in the USSR.