Samson Samsonov – Ognennye versty aka Miles of Fire (1958)
“MILES OF FIRE,” which opened Saturday at the Cameo, is decidedly not one of the better Soviet-made imports. It should have been, considering all the zing, the picturesqueness and, especially lately, the human cameos the alert Russians have been applying to their war dramas.
This Mosfilm Production, in particular, should at least have streaked like the wind in describing how a few carriage-borne Bolshevik civilians and soldiers race to a friendly town through the enemy-held countryside. But, generally, it jogs.
Except for a couple of wild and woolly chase sequences right out of an American Western, the miles of fire are off-set by miles of talk. This Artkino import is conventional to the point of being old-fashioned. Most of the acting, the direction of S. Samsonov and even the musical score are all pretty broad and slapdash.
For some weird reason, the picture has no English titles. Instead, there is a suave English narrator explaining the whole thing in a monotonous drone, butting in on one line, barely catching up with the next. Consequently, a good deal of Russian, for spectators who understand it, is blotted out. Joe Doakes, the man on the street, probably will sit there, closing one ear to the English drone, begrudgingly listening with the other and trying to keep the action in meaningful focus.
Incidentally, the young hero and heroine, Igor Savkin and Marina Volodina, are quite convincing. So is A. Khodursky, as an old doctor. The color isn’t bad at all, and some of the photography is quite sweeping. But it’s hard to feel much sympathy for this group of supposedly brave, desperate Bolsheviks. Especially with such lines as “Death comes to everybody” and “Pahss the salt” filtering out in exactly the same English monotone.
Artkino has supplemented the program with a forty-five-minute color subject called “Songs and Dances of Russia.” Approximately half of the numbers already have been shown here. One sequence shows the beguilingly smooth performing of the Beryozka girl ensemble now at the Broadway Theatre.
The finale, as some young Russian “soldiers” take over, is extraordinary, briefly dimming everything else on the Cameo’s new bill, including “Miles of Fire.”
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