#21 Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1979)
“I’ve waited for you for so long!“ – Read, she waited for him all her life, as we all wait for the one to appear in our lives.
This film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1980. It’s something of a somber rom-com. It tells the story of a woman and her friends all the way from their Uni days to their late 30s/early 40s. So, it’s about growing as people, learning whom to trust, disillusionment, and finding happiness (sometimes much later than one expected to).
Watch it with CC subs on YouTube (PART 1 and PART 2) or on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE. Also available on Amazon Prime.
#22 In Love On His Own Initiative / In Love By Choice (1983)
A former professional athlete does everything to forget about how unhappy he currently is. By chance, he meets a librarian who introduces him to the idea of autosuggestion. The idea is to become happy by thinking that you already are. She claims that this works with everything from work to love. So the two decide to use the power of suggestion to fall in love with each other despite feeling zero romantic pull. As they struggle to find any positive or even likeable qualities in each other, they help each other achieve what they struggle to achieve on their own. And in the process may just find that they like each other after all and that life is not so miserable if one just changes one’s perception of it.
“We work on everything except on our own feelings. Feelings are like wayward children. They do whatever they like! … But where are you in all this? Where is your choice? You have to learn to control your feelings: If I want, I’ll be happy. If I want, I will love my job or fall in love.”
It’s a film about becoming a better version of oneself and becoming happier in the process. Such personal growth is not without its growing pains. Especially as the people closest to you try to pull you back down to the version of you that they are used to. This one is in my personal top 5. In the words of Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy: I love, I love, I love it!
Watch it on YouTube or on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#23 Walking the Streets of Moscow (1963)
This film is all about the atmosphere and wonderfully good mood that stays with you long after it is over. We walk through Moscow with the two leads in the rain, in the sun, and through all the emotions that make us feel human. On the way, the two young men run into other people and have mini-adventures.
It’s both a collection of vignettes and one whole story, connected by the one who becomes a sort-of tour guide to us and to the second lead. We see Moscow through his eyes and that view is beautiful.
Watch it with CC subs on YouTube or on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#24 Three Poplars in Plyushcikha (1968)
A married woman visits Moscow for a very short stay. There, she takes her taxi driver off guard with her ease, warm manner, and charm. So, he offers to take her on a tour of Moscow in his taxi. Free of charge. As simple as the premise is, this is one of the most romantic films I have ever seen. It’s not exactly a tragedy and has something of a rom-com feel to it, but I rarely cry as hysterically as I did at the end of this wonderful film.
Watch it with CC subs on YouTube or on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE. Also available on Amazon Prime. Interestingly, Amazon Prime compared it to Casablanca. I never thought of it that way but I can see why they would draw such a comparison.
Related Post: My Journey Into Old Movies: Casablanca
#25 Spring on Zarechnaya Street (1956)
A newly qualified young teacher travels to a different city where she takes up her post of Russian language and literature teacher. Only it turns out that she will be teaching adults who work at a local factory rather than children. One of the students, who is perceived to be a troublemaker, instantly falls in love with the new headstrong teacher. However, the teacher only sees this student as an uneducated troublemaker and as being beneath her. It’s a film about learning to see past one’s prejudices and preconceptions and adjusting to life in a brand new place.
After WWII, Russia was lacking qualified specialists. Many people left school at 14, then went to work at factories after a few years of specialized training. Education was something of a luxury, so many people had to go into the workforce straight away. But the factory workers were later encouraged to continue their education in special evening schools for adults so that they could progress further at work. This should give you a better idea of why grown-ups are studying school subjects here.
This one is available on Amazon Video, YouTube with CC subs and HARDSUBS, as well as on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#26 Different Fortunes (1956)
Four youths finish school and each chooses their own path in life. We follow them as they struggle to come to terms with their chosen careers, loves, and adulthood in general. The ones they love do not always love them back and some only know how to love themselves and drive the people who love them to distraction.
Watch this film on YouTube or on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#27 Striped Voyage (1961)
A ship carrying circus animals gets a stowaway in the form of a cheeky monkey. This monkey is very adept at opening cages. So, the previously caged animals (tigers, and lions included) start gallivanting across the deck much to the surprise (and horror) of the passengers and crew. With the monkey taking the helm (captain’s hat et al) and the animals roaming about freely, there is great panic among the human passengers. A fearless young woman with a great love for animals seems to the only hope for the human passengers to extricate themselves from this unusual dilemma.
This is a laugh-out-loud funny film with striped passengers and even some romance thrown in for good measure.
This film is available on YouTube and on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#28 Carnival Night (1956)
“If you find yourself feeling down; and the sunny day brings you no joy; allow a passing stranger to warmly smile at you. And a smile will, without a doubt, suddenly light up your eyes; and the good mood will never leave you again!”
It’s the night before the New Year and preparations for the carnival and Yuletide celebrations ahead are in full swing. The film follows a group of performers and technical crew as they prep for the night ahead. They run through the numbers and try to sneak in fun acts without the far-too-responsible and serious director prohibiting it for not being serious enough. It’s a classic Russian film and musical celebrating the New Year.
Watch it on Amazon Prime (as Carnival in Moscow), on YouTube, or on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#29 D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers (1979)
I’ve yet to find a better adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s epic novel. However, I may be biased and nostalgic since it’s the first one I ever watched. This story has been adapted for the screen again and again, but I strongly recommend that you still watch this version. Apart from being a story about friendship and love of epic proportions, it’s also a musical. This version is both funny and sad, glorious and tragic. Some of the songs and scenes will make you laugh like crazy. While others will feel like a knife twisting inside. That’s how painful and to the point some dialogues and songs are. This is a surprisingly philosophical swashbuckler that will appeal to a large and varied audience.
Get a feel for a couple of the tongue-in-cheek songs by watching Aramis’s song about dueling and the now-classic song of the four musketeers.
So, check out this fabulous adaptation on YouTube (PART 1, PART 2, PART 3) or on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#30 Three Men in a Boat to Say Nothing of the Dog (1979)
“Dear friends, we are all terminally ill!”
Because when one reads an Encyclopaedia of Medicine, one suddenly identifies with every single symptom and illness in it. Why, it’s only natural!
Three incorrigible hypochondriacs (and a dog called Montmorency!) head off on a trip down the river Thames in a boat. To say that they happen upon some unusual adventures is an understatement!
This is a film VERY loosely based on the hilarious semi-autobiographical writings of Jerome K. Jerome. If you have not read this book, you don’t know what you are missing! It’s genius of enormous proportions with Oscar Wilde and P. G. Wodehouse-like humour. There’s even an audiobook available. Which is read by Hugh Laurie, no less! A must read and a very enjoyable watch where the characters often break the fourth wall.
Watch this film on YouTube (PART 1 and PART TWO).
And there are more Russian Films on the next page!
6 thoughts on “50 Russian Films – A List of Some of the Best-Loved Comedies and Love Stories from Russia”
Oh my goodness, what a fabulous list. I feel like Christmas came early and will be adding many of these to my list of movies to watch.
Happy Early Christmas 😉
Wonderful list – thank you! I’ve watched a couple of these (Operation Y, The Diamond Arm) and The Irony of Fate has been on my to-watch list. Looking forward to these new recommendations, especially Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, Three Poplars, A Cruel Romance, The Cranes are Flying..and others! Also, I know it’s not a movie, but I love the Russian Sherlock Holmes! Do you have some particular favorites, if you had to choose? 🙂
To be honest, all these films are great, otherwise they wouldn’t have made the list 😉 But, my absolute favourites (which have been re-watched countless times!) are probably:
Office Romance (no.2 on above list)
An Ordinary Miracle (no.3)
That Very Same Munchhausen (no.4)
In Love By Choice (no.22)
Formula of Love (no.5)
But most of the others have been re-watched far too many times too 🙂
The Sherlock Holmes adaptations are highly appreciated, yes. I haven’t re-watched them since I was very little and given the choice tend to revisit the BBC Sherlock lately. I’m scared of watching it in case I don’t like it as much now, which is very silly. If there is one thing I strongly recommend NOT watching, it’s any Russian adaptation of Shakespeare. I can’t explain it, but it doesn’t feel anything like Shakespeare to me. His beauty definitely becomes lost in translation. Ha!
It sounds like you have a preference for love stories somewhat tinged with sadness from your picks above. So, you would probably enjoy numbers 50, 32, 33, 34, 35!, 39, 11, 29 in addition to those you chose.
Too funny – is my preference obvious? 😉 All the numbers you suggested were indeed the other films I thought I’d like to check out when I read the list! Yes, I really do like love stories with a bit of sadness. (My film review of a Good Rain Knows is a perfect example!)
Bullseye! I’m a bit surprised at the accuracy of my own aim 😉