This was the UK premier of Milenky starého kriminálníka aka An Old Gangster's Moll (also aka The Lovers of an Old Criminal) and Czech beauty Anny Ondra may just have a hit on her hands! She stars alongside the uncontested “King of Czech Comedians" Vlasta Burian whose slapstick is more than worthy of his exuberant moustache!
The film was presented in partnership with the Czech Centre London and supported by the Czech National Film Archive and was projected on 35mm film with English subtitles manually inserted on the title cards – there’s no better cinematic experience than to see today’s light passing through images burned onto celluloid in 1927.
|Vlasta Burian and Anny Ondra|
The trio comprised Jan Prochazka on double bass, Andrea Rottin guitar and Tomas Majtan on drums, mandolin, they all vocalised whilst someone also played kazoo at appropriate moments. Their music was a very Czech confection mixing the feel of sixties euro-wimsy with jazz, metal, swing and something approximating Czech skiffle. At times they sounded like the Czech Dodge Brothers but they brought a unique sound of their own and their infectious themes are still stuck in my head.
|The King of Czech Comedians|
|Fifi's early-morning routine|
|Pardon waits in vain for his Olga...|
After getting the letter announcing the visit of Fifi, Pardon hatches a plan to swap places with his Uncle in the hope of avoiding this marriage of inconvenience… what can possibly go wrong?
|Un-insurable, that's what she is...|
She finds Cyril in the process of practicing his charm and rapidly overcomes her disappointment at his age when she catches sight of what appears to be his photograph in a newspaper… Cyril is the spitting image for a notorious criminal called Alois Kanibal – The Cannibal – who is wanted throughout the Republic. Fifi finds the idea of being a gangster’s moll very appealing.
|Fifi mistakes Cyril for her dream mobster...|
|Strictly criminal dancing|
|Cyril outpaces a police motorbike on a scooter|
Pardon takes them back to the house and the mad-house mix is finally complete: Stefanie recognising Cyril, Fifi chasing her Cannibal and Pardon trying to make love to Olga… whilst the range of eccentrics who tend the household gurn away in the background.
Queue mayhem and misunderstanding… but that’s not all as surely, at some point, the real Cannibal must turn up…
Svatopluk Innemann’s direction is sophisticated with high-energy cutting, seemless double exposures and an inch-perfect race across a level crossing between Pardon’s car and an onrushing train. There’s also a splendidly gruesome sequence of comic murder as Cyril tries to persuade Stefanie that he’s a serial killer of his ex-girlfriends.
|Andrea Rottin, guitar, Tomas Majtan, drums, mandolin and Jan Prochazka, double bass|