Czech, please! - Page 2

A new film series revives old modernist spirits
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This time romance rather than lust prevails as the more innocent secretary flees a grabby grandpa and winds up meeting her pure-hearted lower-class match.

Mistrust toward the rich and powerful was also a frequent theme in the era's Hollywood films, in an attempt to please American audiences suffering though the Great Depression, which in turn triggered Czechoslovakia's economic hardship. But the criticism in such films was usually glib, the solutions fanciful. Not so here. It's eye-opening to watch a popular hit like Martin Fric's 1934 Heave Ho!, widely regarded as the best effort from local comedy team Jirí Voskovec and Jan Werich.

Werich plays a dissolute multimillionaire informed one day that his stocks are worthless and he's broke. Teaming with an unemployed laborer (Voskovec) who'd ranted against factory-shutting fat cats on the radio (before being dragged off), he discovers — after making a mess of various odd jobs — that he's inherited a huge building. Unfortunately, it's just a bunch of steel girders, so the penniless duo hit on the scheme of collectivizing construction with other indigent workers, who'll have a home when it's finished. Naturally, corporate types try to thwart this truly free enterprise, but they are treated to the ol' titular gesture. A socialist semimusical with sight gags and assorted silliness, this sure ain't Gold Diggers of 1933. *

CZECH MODERNISM, 1926–1949

Through June 24; see Rep Clock for schedule; $4–$8

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft, Berk.

(510) 642-1124

www.bampfa.berkeley.edu

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