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Tovarich

(1937 b 99')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Based on Robert Sherwood's translation of Jacques Deval's play, Russian aristocrats in Paris become servants rather than spend Russia's money.

Mikail (Charles Boyer) and Grand Duchess Tatiana Petrovna (Claudette Colbert) learn that the French celebrate revolution on July 14. Tatiana washes Mikail's only shirt. A banker and a count call on Mikail and ask him to convert the Prince's fortune to forty billion francs. Tatiana steals some food that kids take; but the grocer tells the police she bought it with their last hundred francs. The banker says they pay for what she steals. Tatiana cries and gives the food for a hungry mother. Mikail refuses to take any money from the bank and offers to get a job. They learn of a place for a butler and maid, and Mikail has Tatiana write a reference letter.

Fermonde Dupont (Isabel Jeans) nags Charles Dupont (Melville Cooper) as they dress. Mikail and Tatiana apply as servants and are hired for 1100 francs. Charles, Fermonde, Georges Dupont (Maurice Murphy), and Helene Dupont (Anita Louise) give them orders. They can't find the dog or Charles' shoe, but the dog brings the shoe. Tatiana blames the revolution on bankers and is fired by banker Charles but is forgiven with a kiss. Mikail gives Charles a drink that removes his headache. Mikail teaches Georges fencing while Tatiana plays Helene's guitar and sings. Helene and Georges study Russian and lose money to Mikail at poker. Georges loves Tatiana, and Helene loves Mikail. Tatiana kisses Georges so he won't bark, but he does. Charles asks Tatiana to kiss him.

Mikail and Tatiana learn that Soviet Commissar Dimitri Gorotchenko (Basil Rathbone) is coming to dinner and tell Charles and Fermonde how he tortured aristocrats. Lady Kartegann bows before Tatiana and says she is a grand duchess, and Mikail is recognized too. Charles asks Gorotchenko about the five-year plan. Mikail and Tatiana serve as Gorotchenko says that murders were necessary in the revolution and that he tortured to try to get forty billion francs; but he let a duchess escape. Tatiana says she poisoned his water. Mikail is fired; but cook Louise (May Boley) tells them to join the union and leaves. Gorotchenko joins Tatiana in the kitchen, and she threatens him because of her stay in his prison. Gorotchenko asks Mikail to write a check for forty billion francs, because he needs credit or peasants will starve, or he will sign away Russia's oil fields in Baku. Tatiana tells Mikail to give the money for Russia, and Mikail writes a check to Gorotchenko. Mikail declines to go to Russia. Tatiana says good-bye to Gorotchenko, calling him tovarich (comrade). Mikail and Tatiana dress to take Georges and Helene to a Russian party and agree to stay until better servants are found.

This unusual comedy plays on the revolutionary result of exiled aristocrats becoming poor servants because of ruthless Soviets. Yet in their dignity they give all their money back for Russia's people.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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