Policeman Iva Janzurová and Cestmír Randa in You Are a Widow, Sir! (1971)
Stories & Ideas

Wed 25 Jan 2023

“All The World’s Bedlam”: Screwball, Czechoslovak style

Film Melbourne Cinémathèque Retrospective
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Melbourne Cinémathèque

Australia's longest-running film society

Notes for the 27 September – 11 October 2023 Melbourne Cinémathèque program.

This season charts 50 years of a peculiarly antic, extraordinarily inventive strain of popular comedy from Czechoslovakia, spanning the late silent era through to the end of the 1970s. It highlights the extraordinary comedic talents of performers still famed domestically but too little known in the anglophone world, like Vlasta Burian, Nataša Gollová, Oldřich Nový, Vladimír Menšík, Iva Janžurová and Jiří Sovák, as well as the comedic gifts of the proto-“Hitchcock blonde”, Anny Ondra (Blackmail, 1929) and 12 Angry Men’s (1957) George (Jiří) Voskovec, whose partner in the hugely influential “V+W” double-act, Jan Werich, was to have been the first screen Blofeld (James Bond’s nemesis).

The nation’s greatest comedy directors are represented, with two ’30s works from Martin Frič – the dizzying screwball classic, Eva Fools Around (1939) and the socially committed V+W slapstick vehicle, Heave Ho! (1934) – and one apiece from high-concept “bláznivá komedie” (“crazy comedy”) specialists Oldřich Lipský and Václav Vorlíček. The season opens with Lipský’s singularly audacious Happy End (1978), which runs backwards and forwards simultaneously, paired with Svatopluk Innemann’s glorious, restored silent comedy starring two Vlasta Burians and a single, indelible Anny Ondra, An Old Gangster’s Molls (1927). Also included: Vorlíček’s berserk body-swap ensemble farce You Are a Widow, Sir (1971) and Ikarie XB 1 (1963) director Jindřich Polák’s ingenious time travel comedy, Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea (1977) – all three co-scripted by the great Miloš Macourek. Hilarity will ensue.


“All The World’s Bedlam”: Screwball, Czechoslovak style

Happy End (1967) – Wed 27 Sep, 7pm
An Old Gangster's Molls (1927) – Wed 27 Sep, 8.45pm
Eva Fools Around (1939) – Wed 4 Oct, 7pm
You Are a Widow, Sir (1971) – Wed 4 Oct, 8.45pm
Tomorrow I'll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea (1977) – Wed 11 Oct, 7pm
Heave Ho! (1934) – Wed 11 Oct, 8.45pm

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Melbourne Cinémathèque

Australia's longest-running film society, Melbourne Cinémathèque screens significant works of international cinema in the medium they were created, the way they would have originally screened.

Melbourne Cinémathèque is self-administered, volunteer-run, not-for-profit and membership-driven. 

Learn more | View the 2023 program | See membership options