Ivan Kouznetsoff, a Russian engineer, recounts during World War II his stay in England prior to the war working on a new propeller for ice-breaking ships. Naïve about British people and ...
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Ivan Kouznetsoff, a Russian engineer, recounts during World War II his stay in England prior to the war working on a new propeller for ice-breaking ships. Naïve about British people and convinced by hearsay that they are shallow and hypocritical, Ivan is both bemused and amused by them. He is blunt in his opinions about Britons and at first this puts off his hosts, including the lovely Ann Tisdall, whose grandfather runs the shipbuilding firm that will make use of Ivan's propeller. The longer Ivan stays, however, the more he comes to understand the humor, warmth, strength, and conviction of the British people, and the more they come to see him as a friend rather than merely a suspicious Russian. As a romantic bond grows between Ivan and Ann, a cultural bond begins to grow as well, particularly as the war begins and Russia is attacked by Germany. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
In between making That Hamilton Woman and Henry V both of which could be argued were better contributions to the propaganda front of the British war effort, Laurence Olivier made this film about a Soviet engineer who designs a new type ship propeller and the government contracts with a British firm to build and install it on a ship. This is taking place in 1939 before any general war breaks out in Europe.
Two things I found interesting about The Demi-Paradise. Firstly the fact that the proper name of the country, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR, or the Soviet Union is never used once in the film. Olivier always refers to his country as Russia, as do the others in the cast. Secondly, you never hear one word about the German-Soviet non- aggression pact. I suppose that might have been better than the clumsy explanations given in the American film Mission to Moscow.
But whether Czarist or Marxist it's a different world that Olivier steps into when he arrives in the United Kingdom. He's pretty suspicious at first, but his interaction with British people in all walks of life gradually wins him over. Not the least of which is pretty Penelope Ward who's conducting a campaign of her own as far as Olivier is concerned.
Hardly the greatest film Olivier ever did. Then again he nor anyone else managed to get themselves blacklisted over it, did they?
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