1931-1940ComedyFinlandMusicalYrjö Norta

Yrjö Norta – SF-paraati AKA SF Parade (1940)

The first true Finnish movie musical, released in 1940 by Suomen Filmiteollisuus (“SF” for short, hence the title), though some would grant this honor to Suomi-Filmi’s Meidän poikamme merellä (“Our Boys at Sea”, 1933), a film showcasing the Finnish navy as well as the singing talents of composer Georg Malmstén. The songs for SF Parade were also composed by Malmstén, who appears in a small role, but the true stars of the film are Tauno Palo and Ansa Ikonen, already well-known from romantic comedies of the ’30s such as Everybody’s Love and Substitute Wife. They would go on to star in the studio’s next musical and one of the most popular Finnish films of all time, The Vagabond’s Waltz of 1941.

SF Parade was originally shot in the summer of 1939 to showcase the studio’s stars, nearly all of whom play characters with barely-disguised versions of their actual names (and include such luminaries as future Inspector Palmu Joel Rinne, here appearing as “Jopi Rintee”), as well as to offer a sort of guided tour of Helsinki in preparation of the planned Olympic Games of 1940. The Winter War of 1939–40 put an end to those and many other plans, including the premiere of the film (originally planned for New Year’s Eve 1939), which was to take place two months after the end of the Winter War, in May 1940. At that point the film had acquired a wistful quality as a time-capsule from the last “summer of innocence”. Of the three hit songs that Malmstén composed for the film, the poignant ballad “Näenhän valoisan taivaan” (“I See the Sky Above Shining”) possibly struck a chord with the original audiences more than the buoyant and optimistic tunes “Nuoruuden sävel” (“The Melody of Youth”) and “Potkut sain” (“I Got the Sack”).

Film historian Peter von Bagh was a great admirer of the film and included several fragments from it in his city symphony Helsinki, Forever (2008), including what he describes as “the most beautiful camera movement in Finnish cinema”: Ansa Ikonen watching wistfully out of her window at the cityscape of Helsinki, a brief shot encapsulating “a romance with the city of Helsinki”. The shot is not quite as poignant the way it appears in the movie (with a different music accompanying it) and the briefly seen cityscape is actually just a poster hanging outside the studio-set’s window. However, thanks to its picture-postcard aspect, the film captures probably more authentic shots of Helsinki than any other pre-war production, including the recently built Parliament House (1931) and the Olympic Stadium (1938). Though the film is still fairly rudimentary as a musical and at turns endearing and embarrassing in its naivety, it does the influence of the best Hollywood musicals of the 1930s: the montage showing the spreading of the “song craze” around Helsinki is a capsule version of sorts of the famous “Isn’t It Romantic” sequence in Mamoulian’s Love Me Tonight (1932), while the violin-playing ballerinas in the film’s finale seem to have been borrowed from “The Shadow Waltz” number in Gold Diggers of 1933.

2.46GB | 2h 22mn | 915×572 | mkv


Language(s):Finnish, English, German
Subtitles:English (srt)

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