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HISTORY

Reviews translated the title into English as "The Girl from Poltava." Var stated that the songs from the operetta Natalka Poltavka "are said to be the source for many of Tchaikovsky's best compositions," and DW noted that Moussorgsky also was "said to have found Kotlyarevsky's songs an infinite source of inspiration" for many of his compositions. In a document in director Edgar G. Ulmer's file at the AMPAS Library, Joseph Steiner stated that he was instrumental in bringing Ulmer to New York from Hollywood to direct the film. However, in a modern interview, Ulmer stated that he was hired to be the associate producer and that Leo Bulgakov, an actor from the Moscow Art Theatre who had directed a few films in Hollywood, was the original director. Ulmer worked on the script with eight others, he related, and began to direct on the third day of shooting, after the Ukrainian backers were unhappy with the footage directed by Bulgakov. Sources disagree concerning the director. While the copyright records lists only Vasile Avramenko, Var lists Ulmer and M. J. Gann as directors, and Avramenko as "Ukrainian director."
       According to a FD news item, the film went into rehearsal in Jul 1936. News items and reviews noted that this was to be the first in a series of up to six films to be made by the newly-formed Avramenko Film Productions and based on works by well-known Ukrainian authors. The company, however, made only one additional film, Cossacks in Exile (see above). Ulmer, in the modern interview, related that the company was formed ... More Less

Reviews translated the title into English as "The Girl from Poltava." Var stated that the songs from the operetta Natalka Poltavka "are said to be the source for many of Tchaikovsky's best compositions," and DW noted that Moussorgsky also was "said to have found Kotlyarevsky's songs an infinite source of inspiration" for many of his compositions. In a document in director Edgar G. Ulmer's file at the AMPAS Library, Joseph Steiner stated that he was instrumental in bringing Ulmer to New York from Hollywood to direct the film. However, in a modern interview, Ulmer stated that he was hired to be the associate producer and that Leo Bulgakov, an actor from the Moscow Art Theatre who had directed a few films in Hollywood, was the original director. Ulmer worked on the script with eight others, he related, and began to direct on the third day of shooting, after the Ukrainian backers were unhappy with the footage directed by Bulgakov. Sources disagree concerning the director. While the copyright records lists only Vasile Avramenko, Var lists Ulmer and M. J. Gann as directors, and Avramenko as "Ukrainian director."
       According to a FD news item, the film went into rehearsal in Jul 1936. News items and reviews noted that this was to be the first in a series of up to six films to be made by the newly-formed Avramenko Film Productions and based on works by well-known Ukrainian authors. The company, however, made only one additional film, Cossacks in Exile (see above). Ulmer, in the modern interview, related that the company was formed by a nationalist Ukrainian movement made up of members of the Union of Window Washers in New York, who raised $18,000 for the production costs by selling advance tickets to the film to chapter houses throughout the U.S. and Canada. Sets were built on a Ukrainian farm in Flemington, N.J. by the window washers' Ukrainian friends in the Finnish Carpenter Union in New York and a Ukrainian who knew how to cut thatched roofs. Ulmer also recounted that children from all over the country arrived on the set with their own costumes for the dance numbers. Modern sources state that Vasile Avramenko introduced Ukrainian dancing to the U.S. Thalia Sabanieeva, who played the lead role, was a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Company, according to Var , which commented that she was "perhaps a little overweight for the character she plays" and that "the camera is far from flattering in some close-ups." According to a HR news item, after the film's premiere, Sabanieeva was signed by Avramenko to star in two additional films; however, she did not appear in their other production of Cossacks in Exile . According to reviews, this film was shown in New York approximately two months after a Soviet-made film based on the same source and with the same title had its New York premiere. (Modern sources state that the American film had a preview on Broadway on 24 Dec 1936, the same day as the Soviet film opened.) The Soviet film was directed by E. Kavaleridze and starred M. Litvinenko Volmut and E. Patorzinski. Reviews praised the American-made version above the Soviet-made film. NYT remarked, "the made-in-America product is more enjoyable than the imported article. This is due to the fact that it contains more funny incidents and is photographed much better." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
8 Jul 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
18 Feb 37
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 36
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 37
p. 7.
New York Times
13 Feb 37
p. 9.
The Daily Worker
27 Dec 1936.
---
Variety
17 Feb 37
p. 23.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Girl from Poltava
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 13 February 1937
Production Date:
began 15 September 1936 at Biograph Studios, New York
Copyright Claimant:
Avramenko Film Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 December 1936
Copyright Number:
LP6747
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
86
Length(in feet):
8,673
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
Ukrainian
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a Ukrainian village, the young maiden Natalka greets her fellow villagers as she carries a yoke with two buckets to the well. At the well, she begins to cry and remembers a sad moment in her life: During a dance in the square of the village of her birth, Poltava, she teasingly runs from her sweetheart Petro, an orphan who had been given a home by her parents. As the assemblage kneel in prayer, the two lovers slip away hand-in-hand. Later, Natalka's father orders Petro to leave the village, and he complies so as not to destroy the family. He and Natalka vow to belong to each other forever, even though they are separated. He wanders by a votiv cross, and Natalka envisions Petro's face and the cross. Back in the present, Natalka addresses Petro's image in the well, wondering where he is, and the image dissolves as water pours from her bucket. A peasant couple pass Natalka on their way to the house of Vozny, a high-hatted money baron. After Vozny wheedles a bribe from the couple, whose cow has been arrested, he learns that the widow Diachonicha is waiting for him to come to her house. His lustful desires aroused, Vozny starts out with his new hat and cane. On his way to the widow's, Vozny sees Natalka in the distance hanging up laundry. Struck by her beauty, he greets her and, to her outrage, says he loves her and asks her to marry him. Natalka protests that they are not equals, but he responds that love makes everyone equal and admits that he ... +


In a Ukrainian village, the young maiden Natalka greets her fellow villagers as she carries a yoke with two buckets to the well. At the well, she begins to cry and remembers a sad moment in her life: During a dance in the square of the village of her birth, Poltava, she teasingly runs from her sweetheart Petro, an orphan who had been given a home by her parents. As the assemblage kneel in prayer, the two lovers slip away hand-in-hand. Later, Natalka's father orders Petro to leave the village, and he complies so as not to destroy the family. He and Natalka vow to belong to each other forever, even though they are separated. He wanders by a votiv cross, and Natalka envisions Petro's face and the cross. Back in the present, Natalka addresses Petro's image in the well, wondering where he is, and the image dissolves as water pours from her bucket. A peasant couple pass Natalka on their way to the house of Vozny, a high-hatted money baron. After Vozny wheedles a bribe from the couple, whose cow has been arrested, he learns that the widow Diachonicha is waiting for him to come to her house. His lustful desires aroused, Vozny starts out with his new hat and cane. On his way to the widow's, Vozny sees Natalka in the distance hanging up laundry. Struck by her beauty, he greets her and, to her outrage, says he loves her and asks her to marry him. Natalka protests that they are not equals, but he responds that love makes everyone equal and admits that he has loved her since she moved there. As he continues his plea, Natalka squirts him in the face as she wrings out a piece of clothing before running to the house. Meanwhile, in a field near another town, Petro pitches hay and sings, still longing for Natalka. Mariyka, the landowner's daughter, rides by in her carriage and stops to question him. She learns that he is an orphan and that he has been working for her for two years. Attracted to him, she invites him to work at her home. When Natalka's mother, whose husband has since died, begs Natalka to marry to relieve their poverty, Natalka grudgingly agrees to marry the first man who wants her. Vozny's drunken pal Vyborny then arrives to make his case for Vozny, and although Natalka contends that one should marry to live in happiness and harmony and fears that if she marries a society man, he will always look down on her and that her life will be worse than a servant's, she agrees to the marriage, but asks that she not be rushed. After a year has passed, Mariyka, seeing that Petro is always sad, confesses that she loves him. He says he is not her equal, but she throws her arms around him and kisses him. At night, Petro prays by the water for help to get Natalka back. When Mariyka comes by, he reveals that he loves another, whereupon she says he should go to her, and proudly walks off. Mariyka's father gives Petro money, and Marikya sadly watches him leave. Meanwhile, Natalka goes through a ritual of tying a scarf around Vozny's arm, which means that she has voluntarily consented to marry him. At a creek outside of town, Petro, on his way to find Natalka, meets Mykola, another orphan, who is grazing cattle, and they become friends. As Petro and Mykola walk to town, they meet Vozny and Vyborny coming from Natalka's house, and from their conversation, Petro suspects that Vozny's fiancée is Natalka. During the dances before the wedding, Mykola questions Natalka, and she tells him that her only choice besides marriage was to drown herself. He then reveals that Petro is waiting by the water. As she and Vozny kneel, and her mother blesses their union, she imagines Petro beside her. When she then sees Vozny instead, she flees the gathering. A mob led by Vozny follows, and they find Petro and Natalka embracing by the river. Vozny commands Petro to leave, and Vyborny threatens to have Natalka imprisoned for breech of promise. When Mykola raises his sickle against the mob, Petro consents to go and urges Natalka to learn to love Vosni. He gives her his bag of money so that Vozny will not be able to say he married a penniless girl and says goodbye. Mykola, however, huddles with Vozny and Vyborny, and Vozny then stops Petro from leaving. He says that Petro's noble action has changed his mind and relates that since his birth, he has had the feeling that he must do a good deed, but that until now, he has not done anything of worth. He then blesses the couple and gives Natalka her freedom. After her mother blesses the union, Mykola takes the scarf from Vozny's arm and puts it on Petro's, and Natalka asks Vozny to be the guest of honor at the wedding party, to which she invites the mob. They march to the town in song and leave Petro and Natalka to embrace as the sun sets. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.