1. “Irony on sdbat, or Chestita bath!” (Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!), 1976, USSR, dir. Eldar Razyanov
A shot from “Irony of Fate, or Happy Bath”
Friends go to the bathroom to steam and, according to tradition, to wash away all the bad things they have accumulated over the past year and to welcome the new one clean. They steamed to such an extent (with beer and vodka) that they sent the sinful man Zhenya to Leningrad (Pasha had to go). Drunk, Zhenya finds herself in Nadia’s apartment, where the whole action takes place. A story that tells how a New Year’s drink can change people’s lives forever. If we have to point out a single New Year’s comedy, it is “Irony of Fate”. Along with Russian salad and tangerines, the film is one of the obligatory elements of the New Year in Russia. The film is ranked among the 100 best films in the history of Russian and Soviet cinema.
2. “Carnival Night” (“Carnival Night”), USSR, 1956, dir. Eldar Razyanov
Lyudmila Gurchenko in “Carnival Night”, USSR, 1956, directed by Eldar Razyanov
It is also a cult Soviet musical comedy. The director’s first film on the big screen and the second role of Lyudmila Gurchenko. For most people in the USSR, the film became a symbol of the changes for freedom after Stalin’s death and the beginning of the so-called thawing of Khrushchev. Shortly after its release on the eve of the new 1957, it was watched by over 48 million viewers. Lyudmila Gurchenko performs several songs, of which the song “Five Minutes” becomes a favorite to perform at the New Year.
3. “Frost” (“Frost”, 1964), directed by Alexander Rowe
“Frost” (“Frost”, 1964), directed by Alexander Rowe
The story is reminiscent of the Cinderella tale, but the action takes place on New Year’s Eve. The film was shot by Alexander Rowe, the story’s genius in the Soviet film industry. For its time, the tape is extremely technically advanced, with great special effects, which, of course, today seem quite naive. Steven Spielberg says the film is the forerunner of many Hollywood masterpieces.
4. “Gentlemeni s kasmet” (“Gentlemen of Fortune”), 1971, USSR, dir. Alexander Seriy
“Gentlemeni s kasmet” (“Gentlemen of Fortune”), 1971, USSR, dir. Alexander Seriy
The film tells the story of how a kindergarten director makes three hardened criminals correct themselves. “Gentlemen with Luck” is not just a New Year’s film – it is considered one of the best Soviet comedies. There are no exact statistics, but according to many he has produced the most memorable phrases of all Soviet films – about 150. In front of the studio “Mosfilm” stands a monument to Evgeny Leonov in the role of Associate Professor. There is almost no Russian who does not know the actor. Interestingly, at first the authorities were afraid to release the film because it was full of underworld jargon – but then Leonid Brezhnev gave his blessing and the film saw the light of day.
5. “Sorcerers” (“Sorcerers”), 1982, USSR, directed by Konstantin Bromberg
The Sorcerers (1982), 1982, USSR, directed by Konstantin Bromberg
A musical comedy about the Research Institute of Magic and Witchcraft. Ivanushka’s lover works at the Institute. Out of jealousy, the older witch enchants her. The hero decides to save his beloved from evil spells, but does not know how to do it. The film is written by the Sgrugatsky brothers, whose books were banned at the time. However, director Konstantin Bromberg managed to insert their text into the script in a way that allowed him to obtain permission from Goskino, the agency that censors films.