Yuri Yakovlev as Bunsha in the film “Ivan Vasilyevich changes his profession.”
Photo: still from the film.
It is a rare case where, even after half a century, the film is not outdated. In 1973, Leonid Gaidai’s film “Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession” became the leader of Soviet film distribution and was seen by 60 million viewers. Well, nowadays, December 31 is invariably shown on television to lift the New Year mood.
Leonid Gaidai not only made a masterpiece of cinema, but also made Mikhail Bulgakov’s brilliant text known to the people. “Why do you look at me like that, dear father? There are no patterns in me and the flowers do not grow” – all this (for Georges Miloslavsky and not only for him) was invented by Mikhail Afanasyevich.
Before Gaidai, the play “Ivan Vasilyevich” had a difficult fate. Bulgakov finished it in 1936. While it was still in the process of writing, the Satire Theater began staging it, but the performance was closed after the dress rehearsal. And the publication of the work was prohibited. This was the case until the mid-60s, when “Ivan Vasilievich” was first published.
Several theaters resumed production. But for some reason the performances went beyond the garden and failed miserably.
And Gaidai did it. He did not make a literal film adaptation, but moved the events of the 1930s to the 1970s, when the film was filmed. I changed the name of the main character: the name of the inventor Timofeev is not Nikolai Ivanovich, but Alexander Sergeevich; otherwise they say Shurik. The director added his characteristic Gaidaev eccentricity, into which Alexander Zatsepin’s wonderful music fits perfectly stylistically.
Photo: still from the film.
FOR THE ROLE OF BUNSHA: A LINE OF POPULAR ARTISTS
Many famous artists auditioned for the role of house manager and king. The first number was Yuri Nikulin. For some reason, the director became convinced that Nikulin and Ivan the Terrible were the same person.
But Nikulin, unexpectedly, flatly refused to act. According to the official version, he was not allowed to go to the set of “Soyuzgostsirk”, Yuri Vladimirovich had a busy touring schedule that he could not interrupt. He unofficially refused because he was sure the film would not pass censorship. Nikulin read the script and sadly said to Gaidai: “Lenya, this is a film “for the shelf”… When and who will see it? “I don’t want to waste a year of my life for the film to gather dust.” And this mortally offended Gaidai, who no longer invited Nikulin to his films.
Evgeny Evstigneev acted very well both in the role of the administrator of the Bunshi house and in that of Ivan the Terrible, but he did not get along with Gaidai. Georgy Vitsin, according to the director, could play, but the artistic council was against: Vitsin was associated with the Coward from the famous Gaidaev trinity and did not look convincing in the image of Ivan the Terrible. Evgeny Lebedev, on the other hand, was very good in the role of tsar, but he did not convince in the image of the pathetic manager of the house.
Also auditioning were Vladimir Etush (he was finally given the role of the dentist Shpak), Georgy Burkov, Georgy Yumatov, Sergey Nikonenko, Anatoly Kuznetsov… But the role went to Yuri Yakovlev, who managed to “split in two” convincingly in the shy Bunsha and the formidable king.
During filming, Yuri Yakovlev pleased the director with his acting improvisations. At his suggestion, Ivan the Terrible listened to a recording of Vladimir Vysotsky and stabbed the sausage with an ancient dagger.
When they found Bunsha/Grozny, there was a problem with his partner: who would play Georges Miloslavsky? According to the original plan, Andrei Mironov was supposed to play. But the Yakovlev-Mironov duo did not work out. Everyone who did not qualify for the role of tsar and household manager began to audition for Miloslavsky: Burkov, Yumatov, Nikonenko… And Gaidai chose Leonid Kuravlev.
Offering Alexander Demyanenko the role of the inventor Timofeev, Gaidai completed the trilogy about the adventures of Shurik (“Operation Y”, “Prisoner of the Caucasus”). But even Demyanenko’s candidacy was not without alternatives. Oleg Vidov, who in the early 70s was the main sex symbol of the USSR, auditioned.
It wasn’t easy with the female roles either. Natalya Selezneva, Natalya Gundareva (both also auditioned for Tsarina Marfa Vasilievna), Natalya Gvozdikova, Natalya Bogunova, Ekaterina Markova auditioned for the role of film actress Zina, Timofeev’s wife… In the end, Gaidai decided not to they had to change horses at the crossing. Selezneva already performed together with Demyanenko, so be it.
Photo: still from the film.
Contrary to Yuri Nikulin’s predictions, the film was not shelved. But there was a censorship edition. During the royal feast, Bunsha asks Miloslavsky: “At whose expense is this banquet? Who will pay? He answers: “In any case, not us” (censored version), in the original – “People, people, father.”
The scene where Ivan the Terrible was frying cutlets in Shurik’s kitchen was removed; This scene was considered a mockery of the tsar’s image.
Bunshi’s phrase was repeated in the episode in which he addresses the Swedish ambassador. Instead of the script’s phrase “Peace, friendship!” It turned out: “Hitler kaput” (in Bulgakov’s work, Bunsha at this moment says: “I only know revolutionary words in foreign languages, but I have forgotten everything else…”, which is followed by Miloslavsky’s response: “Well , at least say revolutionary, otherwise you won’t say a word.
In the scene of the interrogation of Ivan the Terrible by police officers, to the question “Where do you live?”, he answers: “In the halls” (censored version), according to Leonid Gaidai’s plan: “Moscow, the Kremlin. “
They also removed the end of Bunshi’s sentence: “What kind of repertoire do you have? Gather the creative intelligentsia tomorrow. I’ll take care of you.”
They cut close-ups of a fountain pen that Miloslavsky stole from Shpak and gave to the Swedish ambassador (the pen had a changing image, depicting a female figure, which is exposed if it is turned upside down). After making all the changes, the length of the film was reduced by 10 minutes: 177 meters of film. But the original negative is in the archives of the Mosfilm film studio.
There is also a short film stylized as a silent film: “Black Gloves”. Few people saw it. It tells what happened to Georges Miloslavsky after fleeing from the police. It ends like this: Georges sails on a river bus, accompanied by two girls. When the boat emerges from under the bridge, there are no girls sitting on the sides, but two police officers.
By the way, in the film itself, in the scene where Miloslavsky calls Shpak and introduces himself as a woman, Kuravlev could not parody a female voice. Actress Natalya Kustinskaya helped: during the dubbing she told him this phrase.
Gaidai offered the role of the house manager’s wife to Natalya Krachkovskaya. While filming was going on, she suffered from pneumonia and lost a lot of weight, which made her incredibly happy. Gaidai was horrified. Half of the film was shot and in the finished scenes Krachkovskaya is quite chubby. Leonid Iovich forced her to urgently gain weight.
Photo: still from the film.
FOR THE TIME MACHINE – 40 RUBLES
The time machine for filming was created by wood sculptor and caricaturist Vyacheslav Pochechuev. The initial version, made by engineers, was a standard computer prototype. Pochechuev sketched a sketch and, with the help of a designer, a mechanic and a glassblower, in a few days created a new time machine that evokes a feeling of miracle. By the way, his fee for this invention was modest – 40 rubles. The financial statement says: “The money was donated for the invention of the time machine.”
Everyone who personally knew Leonid Gaidai noted that in life he was a very serious and serious person. He himself always repeated: “Humor is a serious matter.” And he strictly suppressed laughter on the set, believing that this was a bad omen. Yuri Yakovlev, when he looked at the draft of “Ivan Vasilyevich”, was confused: it seemed like a comedy, but not funny. But a month passed, Gaidai shortened the film, added music… And the next time the audience saw a completely different film. And they fell under the chair laughing.
By the way, Yuri Yakovlev, according to eyewitnesses, could not stand his Hippolytus from Ryazanov’s “The Irony of Fate”, but he treated the manager Bunshe very kindly, and even more so, Ivan the Terrible.