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Song of Russia (1944) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • In June 1941, famed American symphony conductor John Meredith (Robert Taylor) is touring Soviet Russia with his manager Hank (Robert Benchley) when they go to a small rural town where famed Russian composer Tchaikovsky was born. John meets Nadya (Susan Peters), a sweet peasant girl with an ear for classical music and they soon get married. When war breaks out, John want to flee back to the USA, but Nadya wants to stay and fight the invading Germans who are closing in on the village.


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Synopsis

  • During a broadcast of an all-Russian music concert, Manhattan Philharmonic Orchestra conductor John Meredith addresses the audience and describes his last tour of Russia:

    Three years earlier in 1941, shortly after his arrival in Moscow, where he is to begin an extended tour, John meets amateur pianist Nadejka Ivanovna Stepanova. Nadya asks John to visit her village, Tschaikowskoye, during their annual musical festival, which is to be held in a few months. Impressed by Nadya's talent and beauty, John agrees to consider the request, then invites her to dinner.

    While dining in a traditional Russian restaurant, John accepts Nadya's invitation and suggests that they explore Moscow together. After four days of romantic sightseeing, John, who has dreamed of coming to Russia since he was fourteen, confesses his love to Nadya. The more practical Nadya, however, is unsure of her feelings and describes their relationship as unrealistic and sentimental. John tries to convince Nadya that they can overcome their cultural differences, but she leaves Moscow abruptly and returns to Tschaikowskoye.

    Determined to win Nadya, John follows her there and, after receiving an affectionate welcome from her father and the rest of the music-loving villagers, proposes to her. Although Nadya admits her love for John, she hesitates to accept his proposal, claiming that she has too many responsibilities to her family and country to become his wife. Finally, however, Nadya relents, and she and John enjoy a lavish, traditional wedding in Tschaikowskoye.

    Soon after, John resumes his tour, and is a huge success across Russia. When Nadya, who has always worked in the fields of her father's farm as well as at the piano, asks John about her future life in America, he insists that she concentrate on her music. He then suggests that she begin her career by performing with him at his next concert, which is to be broadcast throughout Russia. Though nervous, Nadya plays her Tchaikovsky concerto flawlessly, thrilling her hometown audience. During her performance, however, the Nazis invade Russia, and within moments, the country is plunged into war.

    Later, in Tschaikowskoye, as Nadya is instructing the local children on the use of Molotov cocktails, her brother-in-law, Boris Bulganov, informs her that the festival has been canceled and the region has been put under Soviet martial law. He also tells her that John will not be allowed to enter the region, but when Nadya later calls John, she cannot break the news to him. John soon learns about the situation, after one of his concerts is interrupted by a German bombing raid. John determines to reunite with Nadya, and with help from Hank Higgins, his publicity agent, he secures a pass to a town near Tschaikowskoye.

    On the way, John's train is bombed, and he and the other survivors seek refuge in the surrounding countryside. Aided by a sympathetic commandant, John reaches Tschaikowskoye, but discovers that it has been destroyed by German bombs. John scours the ruined village in search of Nadya and finally locates her in the fields, where she, Boris and other villagers have gone to set the crops on fire. After they rush into each other's arms, John vows never to leave Nadya again. Moments later, however, Nadya's young nephew Peter, an aspiring conductor, is killed by a German plane, and moved by his loss, John pledges to fight alongside the Russians. Boris convinces John and Nadya that their place is in America, where they can spread the word about Russia's plight.

    Back in New York, John concludes his remarks and proudly introduces Nadya to America.

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