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He dreamed of filming Schwarzenegger, “discovered” Alexei Serebryakov and called himself a corrupt director: What Vladimir Krasnopolsky remembers

Today, September 27, in Moscow they say goodbye to the legend of Russian cinema.  Photo: Maxim Novikov/TASS

Today, September 27, in Moscow they say goodbye to the legend of Russian cinema. Photo: Maxim Novikov/TASS

In the Central House of the Union of Cinematographers, they say goodbye to Vladimir Krasnopolsky. The legendary director who shot the best TV series in the Soviet Union “Shadows disappear at noon” and “Eternal Call” died on September 23.

– I went by car to the doctors … and returned home from them. They put the car in the garage, he went up to the house and, walking along the corridor, leaned against the wall and died, ”said Krasnopolsky’s brother and colleague, Valery Uskov, about the circumstances of his departure.

Ilf and Petrov in the cinema

Successful creative unions between two filmmakers are extremely rare. But Vladimir Krasnopolsky was an exception. Together with their cousin Valery Uskov, they became something like Ilf and Petrov in the cinema. The legendary tandem worked for decades, becoming the ancestor of the Soviet series.

The caustic Gaft even came up with an epigram about Krasnopolsky and Uskov:

An unbreakable union of two eccentrics:

Everyone does it together in their own way.

They shoot and drink: a little more Uskov,

A little less Krasnopolsky.

Vladimir Krasnopolsky himself was “smaller”, younger than his cousin by a month and a half. He was born on June 23, 1933 in an artistic family: his father was an artist of the Yekaterinburg operetta, his mother was a choreographer. During the war years, the Krasnopolsky family moved in with the Uskov family, so the children grew up together: they slept in the same bed, played together and even started to roar at the same time. When one started, the other picked up.

– A good duet will turn out! adults approved.

Messing predicted fate

Krasnopolsky said that their fate was predicted by Wolf Messing. Once, with their brother and father, they went to the circus, and then looked into the director’s office, where Messing was sitting. At some point, the chief magician and magician of the Soviet Union turned to the boys:

– What do the younger generation want to do?

Hearing that the brothers were dreaming of a movie, Messing said: “Someday you will make a movie about me.”

(Many years later, while filming the TV series Wolf Messing: Seeing Through Time, Vladimir Krasnopolsky recalled this prediction).

The brothers grew up together, sat together at the same desk. Together they graduated first from the Yekaterinburg philological faculty, and then from VGIK. The idea to shoot together came from cost considerations. After graduating from VGIK, young directors were given a little money to shoot short films, and Vladimir and Valery decided to add the amount together and make a full-fledged film with the proceeds.

Such a film was “The Slowest Train” based on the story of Yuri Nagibin “Early Spring”.

– Fate was turned to face us, – repeated Vladimir Krasnopolsky. The thesis work was so successful that the young directors were noticed and taken under guardianship by the all-powerful Pyryev. He also advised me to turn to the genre of the series, unusual for Soviet cinema. When the brothers brought him the book “Shadows Disappear at Noon”.

– You won’t make a big movie out of this, ruin it. We need a series, – said the master and immediately called the right place.

Serebryakov, Velyaminov and thirty other actors were opened

The brothers were pioneers in many ways, and this applies not only to the genre of the series. For example, they were the first to “push” nudity into the cinema. (In the film “Salty Watermelon” based on Vladimir Orlov, they managed to force the actress to plunge naked into the water, and the seditious shot was shot with the help of Pyryev).

The directors were among the few who were allowed to burn down an entire village for the sake of filming. (before that, only Sergey Bondarchuk used this privilege).

It was they who brought the books of the writer Anatoly Ivanov to bestsellers. The name of the writer thundered after the film adaptation of the brothers, and before that he was almost unknown to anyone.

The famous hit “I look into the blue lakes” was written for their “Shadows” and sounded for the first time in the series.

But the main superpower of directors was a fantastic flair for actors. The brothers saw people who later became stars. Young Zinaida Kiriyenko played in their first thesis work, and Alla Demidova made her debut in the film “Stewardess”. The young Dzhigurda played his best role in them. And even the popular Alexei Serebryakov today was found by them. Once “Evening Moscow” published a photo of a little bayan player. The directors liked the boy and soon Alexei Serebryakov (and he was in the photo) got into the series “Eternal Call”.

Successful creative unions between two filmmakers are extremely rare.  But Vladimir Krasnopolsky was an exception.  Together with their cousin Valery Uskov, they became something like Ilf and Petrov in the cinema.  Photo: Nikolay Malyshev/TASS

Successful creative unions between two filmmakers are extremely rare. But Vladimir Krasnopolsky was an exception. Together with their cousin Valery Uskov, they became something like Ilf and Petrov in the cinema. Photo: Nikolay Malyshev/TASS

Their special pride was, of course, Peter Velyaminov. Velyaminov’s film career began with the series Shadows Disappear at Noon. Velyaminov spent nine years in the camps, and it was a great success that after his release he played on the stages of provincial theaters. The brothers saw him by chance either in Perm or Yekaterinburg. They were so impressed that they were invited to the main role in the series.

The choice was so unexpected that even the actor himself was indignant.

– What are you doing! Where am I, and where is the cinema. For me, the word “camera” is associated only with the camera where I was sitting! – Velyaminov replied to the proposal. And the artistic council was so offended by the choice that even after the trials, he continued to assert that Velyaminov was mediocrity and should not be allowed to shoot. Confident in their choice, the directors vouched for the actor and wrote a paper that if Velyaminov did not prove himself in the role of collective farm chairman Zakhar Bolshakov within a month, they would reshoot everything for their money.

In the end, hit the bull’s-eye. Pyotr Velyaminov became a people’s artist, received recognition and love from millions. And when he was called to the next series “Eternal Call”, onlookers kept coming up with the question: “What, you don’t work on the collective farm anymore?”

Somehow the brothers calculated and it turned out that in their entire lives they discovered 32 actors!

– It is not we who choose, it is fate that chooses, – said Vladimir Krasnopolsky.

Arnold Schwarzenegger cut the role of Vadim Spiridonov

The directors regretted the most about the wonderful actor Vadim Spiridonov. Spiridonov played in “Eternal Call”. In the television epic, the brothers managed to push through a seditious thought for that time: the Civil War does not end, it cannot stop – this is a war for the truth, which everyone understands in their own way. Therefore, the scoundrel Fedor, performed by Spiridonov, became a popular idol.

A few years later, when the brothers announced the shooting of the new series “Ermak”, Vadim was sure that he would get the main role. But time passed, and the role was not offered. Out of resentment, Spiridonov went into a heavy binge, the result of which was death.

For the first time, Vladimir Krasnopolsky mentioned this story shortly before his death, in the program “Life Line” on “Culture”. He was very sorry about what happened and said that Vadim had every chance to play the main role. He just had to wait.

The role was not offered because they initially negotiated with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

– We dreamed of making a movie in the best traditions of westerns, – said the director. – The idea was supported by Goskino, negotiations began. It was possible to get the consent of the “iron Arnie”. He agreed to play for three kopecks, because he dreamed of playing a “Russian peasant”. It seemed that everything was successful, the process of signing the agreement was already underway, but in January the Vilnius TV tower was stormed and the next day the American side terminated all agreements.

As a result, the role of Ermak went to Viktor Stepanov, and this choice also turned out to be accurate.

Life after “Eternal Call”

“We are called corrupt directors. This is the highest title and we are afraid of losing it,” they joked. By “corrupt” was meant that in the era of ratings and sales, they managed to fit into the new system.

Since the 2000s, Uskov and Krasnopolsky began to work separately, but still helped each other, always put two names in the credits and did not fall for attempts to pit them and find out who is more talented.

Of course, critics scolded the films and said that the recent melodramas cannot be compared with Soviet movie hits. “The old style is dead, the new one has not been created.” “Women’s thighs are shown endlessly,” connoisseurs cursed. But unpretentious melodramas of recent years went with a bang. Among the works loved by the audience are the series “Two Fates”, filmed according to the manuscript of a Moscow pensioner; series “On the Sunny Side of the Street” based on the novel by Dina Rubina (although Uskov filmed this series, and Krasnopolsky helped with editing). Strong excitement was caused by “Kapkan” – the last film in which Alexander Abdulov and Irina Alferova starred together. The intriguing moment was that in the series there was a bed scene between the husband and wife who were at that time …

Many journalists were interested in the relationship between Alferova and Abdulov on the set, but the delicate Krasnopolsky avoided questions. Unlike many directors, he did not leak his actors, did not slander, never told who drinks with whom, sleeps and how rowdy.

– How did you work with that? – asked the journalists with an unhealthy interest.

– Wonderful! – answered Krasnopolsky.

And when the fans asked to name their favorite work, Vladimir Arkadyevich answered in a cunning way:

– Our best film is our next work.

In recent years, he dreamed of teaming up with Uskov to make a film together about the White Army and its role in the victory in the Great Patriotic War. Krasnopolsky promised that it would be the “Eternal Call” of the twenty-first century, but he did not name either the name of the book that impressed him or the name of the author, noting only:

– This is such material that you can get up from the grave and take off this thing!

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