Edgar G. Ulmer, M.J. Gann, Vasile Avramenko

T ing.: The Girl from Poltavia; Sog.: dall’operetta Natalka Poltavka (1818) di Ivan Kotlyarevsky; Scen.: Vasile Avramenko, M.J. Gann; Mu.: Mykola Lysenko; Partitura Mus. e Arrangiamenti: C.H. Shvedoff; Int.: Thalia Sabanieeva (Natalka), Dimitri Creona (Petro), Olena Dibrova (Terpylykha), Michael Shvetz (Vyborny), Mathew Vodiany (Vozny), Theo- dore Swystun (Mykola), Vladimir Zelitsky (Palamar), Lydia Berezovska (Mariyka), Mykola Novak (proprietario terriero), Michael Skorobohach (impiegato), Fedir Braznick (contadino), Maria Lavryk (sua moglie), Peter Kushabsky (Terpylo), Andrew Stanislavsky (Lirnyk); Prod.: Avramenko Film Productions, Inc. 35mm. L.: 2554 m. D.: 93’ a 24 f/s. Bn.


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

Natalka Poltavka was the first in a series of six proposed films to be made by Avramenko Film Productions, Inc., a film company created with the express aim of making motion pictures based on the works of Ukrainian authors for Ukrainian/American audiences. As it turned out, Avramenko Productions made only one more film, Cossacks in Exile (1939), directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Ulmer’s initial connection with Natalka Poltavka was as associate producer, but he stepped into the director’s role only three days into principal photography when the footage shot by director Leo Bulgakov (a noted actor with the Moscow Art Theatre) was deemed unusable. The production was filmed on a Ukrainian farm in Flemington, New Jersey, and was a labor of love for those involved. Financial support came from Ukrainian nationalists (members of the Union of Window Washers of New York) and the authentic-looking sets were built by other Ukrainian friends who were members of the Finnish Carpenter Union in New York, including one man with the technical knowledge and ability to cut thatched roofs. Children of Ukrainian heritage came from across the U.S. to dance in the musical numbers, and provided their own traditional Ukrainian dress. The professional members of the cast were headed by Thalia Sabanieeva, who was at that time a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Ironically, a Soviet version of Natalka Poltavka opened a mere two months before the U.S./Ukrainian version, but suffered by comparison with its American-made rival. The New York Times review of 15 February 1937 commented: “…the made-in-America product is more enjoyable than the imported article. This is due to the fact that it contains more funny incidents and is photographed much better…”

George Eastman House acquired a 35mm acetate print of Natalka Poltavka through an archival trade with the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive in Jerusalem. It was preserved in 1999 with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Film Foundation. The original print was severely affected with vinegar syndrome. Signs of decomposition are reflected in the viewing print, with slight waviness in the image, and flecks where the emulsion has been lost. There is one brief sub- title that is printed backwards in the original material. It has not been altered in this preservation.

Caroline Yeager, George Eastman House


Copy From

Print acquired from the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive in Jerusalem and preserved with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Film Foundation