Eldar Ryazanov

Eldar Aleksandrovich Ryazanov was born on November 18, 1927 in Samara, Russia. He graduated with honors from the Soviet State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in 1950, as a film director. He was making documentaries for five years. In 1955 Ryazanov came to work at the Mosfilm Studios under the direction of Ivan Pyrev, who produced Ryazanov’s first feature film ‘Karnavalnaya Noch’ (Carnival in Moscow, 1956). It was an instant box office hit starring Lyudmila Gurchenko and Igor Ilyinsky.

Ryazanov’s early comedies ‘Devushka bez adresa’ (1957), ‘Gusarskaya ballada’ (1962), ‘Dayte zhalobnuyu knigu’ (1963) were popular in the time of the cultural “Thaw” which was initiated by Nikita Khrushchev. However Ryazanov’s film ‘Chelovek niotkuda’ (1961) was banned by the Soviet censorship, regardless of the fine acting by Sergey Yurskiy and Anatoliy Papanov. ‘Beregis avtomobilya’ (Watch Out for the Automobile, 1966) is arguably the most popular of Ryazanov’s comedies. In that film Ryazanov worked with the stellar cast, including such actors, as Innokenti Smoktunovsky , Oleg Yefremov, Anatoli Papanov, Georgi Zhzhyonov, Yevgeni Yevstigneyev, Andrei Mironov (I), Olga Aroseva, Donatas Banionis, and other Russian film stars. The music score for the film was written by the brilliant composer Andrei Petrov.

Ryazanov created his own style of lyrical comedy with a soft satire on the Soviet life. His ‘Zigzag udachi’, with Evgeniy Leonov in the leading role, was a nice fairy tale for the Soviet people. ‘Stariki-razboyniki’, starring Yuriy Nikulin, Evgeniy Evstigneev, and Andrey Mironov was a crime-parody. His extremely popular TV-movie ‘Ironiya sidby, ili S lyogkim parom!’ (Irony of Fate, 1975 TV) was a big hit of the 70’s and later turned into a nostalgic cult. It is shown every New Year’s Eve as a tradition in the former Soviet Union. Actors Andrey Myagkov, Yuriy Yakovlev, Barbara Brylska, and Aleksandr Shirvindt are working together as one acting ensemble. Two years later Ryazanov directed another hit, ‘Sluzhebny roman’ (1977), where Andrei Myagkov made a nice duet with ‘Alisa Freindlikh’.

Eldar Ryazanov wrote and directed ‘Garazh’ (1979). Ryazanov delivers a dazzling array of Soviet characters and situations in this film, ranging from funny, bitter, and sarcastic, to greedy, manipulative, and scary stupid. In somewhat a departure from comedy, Ryazanov brings the theme of “Gulag” prison-camp in ‘Vokzal dlya dvoikh’ (1982). Still the film is full of Ryazanov’s warm humor and also benefits from the performances of Lyudmila Gurchenko and Oleg Basilashvili. ‘Ruthless Romance’ (1984) is the Ryazanov’s adaptation of the 19th century story by ‘Aleksandr Ostrovsky’. His latest film is Andersen. Zhizn bez lyubvi (2006).

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