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Pane, Vy jste Vdova!

Pane, Vy jste Vdova! (1971) Movie Poster
Czechoslovakia  •    •  97m  •    •  Directed by: Václav Vorlícek.  •  Starring: Iva Janzurová, Olga Schoberová, Eduard Cupák, Jirí Sovák, Frantisek Filipovský, Cestmír Randa, Jan Libícek, Otto Simánek, Ludek Kopriva, Vladimír Mensík, Jirí Hrzán, Milos Kopecký, Lubomír Kostelka.  •  Music by: Svatopluk Havelka.
      After a soldier cuts off the arm of king's cousin, king decides to deactivate the army. Of course, generals don't like it at all and they try to kill the king. The assassin should be artificial body in the shape of actress Evelina Keleti and with brain of psychotic serial killer Fany Stubová. They also manage to kill king's astrologer Stuart Hampl, who warns the king. Accidentally, Hampl's brain is implanted into assassin's body, actress Keleti is killed and chaos begins...


Image from: Pane, Vy jste Vdova! (1971)
Image from: Pane, Vy jste Vdova! (1971)
Image from: Pane, Vy jste Vdova! (1971)
Image from: Pane, Vy jste Vdova! (1971)
Image from: Pane, Vy jste Vdova! (1971)
Image from: Pane, Vy jste Vdova! (1971)
Macourek & Vorlíček are the indisputable masters of Czech comedy, and could perhaps be compared to the Americans Abrahams, Zucker & Zucker. Each of the teams' type of comedy is distinctive so much that you're likely to readily recognize the creators while watching a snippet from one of their movies, without having to see the movie's credits.

In Macourek & Vorlíček's case, their specialty is a unique blend of (black) comedy, (adult-tinged, or enjoyable by adults) fairy-tale, and fantasysci-fi. All these components are gloriously at display in _You Are a Widow, Sir_.

What definitely helps Macourek & Vorlíček's mixture succeed here, is a stunning ensemble of some of the brightest of Czech movie stars of the 20th century, everyone seemingly at their best right here in this wild romp of a comedy.

It's possible the fingers of both of your hands won't be enough to count all the Czech acting legends involved in _You Are a Widow, Sir_. You get to see and admire both -- on the one hand -- veritable stars of old Czech cinema who started their careers before World War II or in the 1940s, and -- on the other hand -- younger and up-and-coming stars of the late 60s and early 70s.

Among the former, there is the doyen Jiří Sovák in one of the leading roles of a whimsical but wise king of a fictitious kingdom; Sovák gives an impeccable, unflappable performance despite all the commotion happening all around him; each of his expressions, tones of voice, and diction are right on target every time. Sovák's performance here epitomizes what is so great, magical and delightful about Macourek & Vorlíček's comedies: he does not play it "straight for the laughs", making it obvious or needlessly emphasizing that what the viewer is watching is supposed to be a comedy; on the contrary: everyone here performs as if in earnest, yet the actions themselves are nonsensical and laughable; it is this antithesis, a trademark of Macourek & Vorlíček, that is the steady source of mirth for the audience.

The movie excels in one-liners, such as that delivered by Sovák's cousin in the movie, another acting legend František Filipovský, who avers that "all people are brothers, but all royals are cousins".

You get to appreciate the eye-popping sexiness of the Czech cinema's "blonde bombshell" of Brigitte Bardot calibre: Olinka Bérová a.k.a. Olga Schoberová. (Although as to me, as I generally prefer brunettes, I was even more delighted by the new-comer Libuše Šafránková in another Macourek & Vorlíček classic released 4 years later: _How to Drown Dr. Mráček_.) In general, Macourek & Vorlíček never fail to make the most generous use of mini-skirts and long-legged beauties; see the industrialist's maid in _You Are a Widow, Sir_: even in a pivotal (and murderous) scene, the director made sure to highlight the character's beauty contest-worthy legs as much as possible.

A third old-time Czech legend here is Vladimír Menšík, absolutely fabulous and authentic as a bungling working-class thug.

A fourth legend excelling in every line he delivers, in his inimitable diction (likely to sound funny no matter what the content of the words might be), is Miloš Kopecký. At least one of his lines from this movie (funny in the way it's meant to be threatening, but inefficiently so) entered the Czech lore: "You don't want me to make you unemployed, do you?"

A fifth and female legend is the movie's leading star Iva Janžurová, at the tender age of 29 here, but delivering the masterful, assured performance of a veteran actor that she was to become later on.

Even ignoring all these greats and their status in Czech film history, the entire cast is uniformly perfect. A macabre after-the-fact aspect of this movie is that several of its stars (a number of them famously corpulent) later died young or having suffered from a debilitating illness. This applies to Jan Libíček (died only 4 years after the release of this movie -- during the shooting of _How to Drown Dr. Mráček_, in fact -- before he turned 43); Jiří Hrzán fell to his death when he was 41; Čestmír Řanda died aged 62; Eduard Cupák only lived to be 64; and Helena Růžičková died from cancer aged 67, outliving her son (also a popular actor) by 5 years.

The plot is intricate, clever, and overflowing with irreverent, wicked humour. It provides the unique opportunity for a couple of actors to try out playing several completely different characters in the same movie. This particularly applies to the leading star, Iva Janžurová, who is thoroughly convincing in her triple role of three completely different personalities -- the climax, no doubt, being her hilarious final third incarnation. Eduard Cupák also undergoes a miraculous transformation of character and personality at one point in the movie.

Several Czech viewers have called _You Are a Widow, Sir_ the finest comedy by Macourek & Vorlíček (which is plausible, even though the pair created a handful of other masterpieces of similar, equal or perhaps even higher merit). Other viewers might even claim that _You Are a Widow, Sir_ is the best Czech comedy of all time -- a bolder statement, but still supportable. Finally, there are a few hardcore fans of this movie who will assert that this is the finest Czech movie of all time, disregarding the genre -- which seems exaggerated, but one aspect is certain: if you wish to partake of a concerto of some of the greatest stars of Czech cinema of the 20th century, _You Are a Widow, Sir_ is a shrine dedicated to their memory: as lively and effervescent today as it was upon its release over 4 decades ago.

Review by faterson from the Internet Movie Database.