Monthly Archives: June 2013

East Side Story (1997)

Director: Dana Ranga

Tagline: Tractor! The Musical!

I had heard rumours and seen some clips of Eastern European communist musicals before, but I never knew that someone had made a documentary about them until my research on tractors turned up this title.

Through as series of clips of the movies, interviews with the people involved in their production, audiences and recreations of party review committees, this documentary attempts to tell the story of a forgotten era of cinema from behind the Iron Curtain.

I have to say after watching this that some of these films look like the best movies ever. It is very frustrating to find out after my own further research that the amount of these movies that are actually available today can be counted on the fingers of one hand. (When I first watched this documentary back in 2005, a lot less of these movies were available.)

It is a bit sad that these films were never considered as ‘art’ when they were released, as it means that many of them were just forgotten after the fall of communism. The people involved had a hard enough time making them in the first place and they deserve recognition for their achievements.

I also liked the funny anecdotes from this movie, such as Stalin liking to laugh it up with funny movies and having a fantasy for ‘boys photographing tractors’. The views of the audience members interviewed were also great to hear as you don’t normally hear their opinions in this sort of documentary.

This documentary comes very highly recommended and I am planning on buying a copy on DVD (along with the movie ‘Hot Summer’) as soon as I am able to so I can watch it again for the great musical clips.

Rating: 9/10

Buy the documentary on VHS (DVD too expensive)

Full movie now on Youtube!

DEFA Film Library – Cinema of East Germany

Hot Summer clips

No Cheating, Darling! clips

Full list of films in the documentary and availability:

Title Non-english Title Country Year IMDB entry DVD Youtube Clip
Adventure in Marienstadt Przygoda na Mariensztacie Poland 1954
The Antique Coin Antike Münze, Die Bulgaria/GDR 1966
AT 6PM at the End of the War В 6 часов вечера в конце войны USSR 1944
The Bright Path Светлый путь USSR 1940
Carnival Night Карнавальная ночь USSR 1957
Cossacks of the Kuban River Казаки Кубани USSR 1946
Ernst Thalmann, Class Leader Ernst Thälmann – Führer seiner Klasse GDR 1962
A Handful of Notes Handvoll Noten, Eine GDR 1962
Hard Work, Happy Holiday GDR 1950
Hot Summer Heißer Sommer GDR 1968
I Don’t Want to Marry Nu vreau sa ma însor Romania 1961
The Jolly Fellows Веселые ребята USSR 1934
The Lovable White Mouse Geliebte weiße Maus GDR 1964
Midnight Revue Revue um Mitternacht GDR 1962
My Wife Wants to Sing Meine Frau macht Musik GDR 1958
New Year’s Punch Silvesterpunsch GDR 1960
No Cheating Darling Nicht schummeln, Liebling GDR 1973
The Swineherd and the Shepherd Свинарка и пастух USSR 1941
Tractor Drivers Трактористы USSR 1939
Vacation on the Black Sea Vacanta la mare Romania 1963
Volga, Volga Волга – Волга USSR 1938
The Wayward Wife Lots Weib Czechoslovakia/GDR 1965
Woman on the Rails Dáma na kolejích Czechoslovakia 1968
watch?v=jRQpy35lpI0 DVDs #1

I finally got around to watching Legend of the Superheroes after buying a few of the Warner Archive Collection/MGM Classics/Sony Screen Classics DVDs last year. I know some of them are now available only, but I cannot watch them there due to region restrictions. Also I noticed a lot of these DVDs have “not for sale or rent outside of the US” on them. Has not stopped some local DVD stores selling them at double the price though.

Urgh! A Music War

Has a large line up of bands playing from a concert recorded in 1980. Fans of the bands should know that while the popular bands of the time do play, they don’t actually play their most popular song. I did like the large amount of bands involved and some of the more interesting bands like the Surf Punks

They reminded me of Melbourne band the Twits are fair bit for some reason.

Legends of the Superheroes

I had heard a lot about this from various sites pouring scorn on it in the past few years. As a fan of the Superfriends cartoon series I was interested in it and not just to make fun of it. I turned out to be a lot better than I thought from the short clips I have seen. Having Adam West, Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin, Ruth Buzzi and a lot of other talented actors and comedians in it helped a lot. Even though the show was never picked up from the two pilot episodes, it does look like the people involved were having a good time and laughing for real at some of the jokes during the filming.

I found this great site with someone who went to the trouble of tracking down the original actors from the show and interviewing them

The Bed Sitting Room

Another one I had been meaning to see for quite a while after reading about it in Spike Milligan’s autobiography. It was originally a play and Spike also moved his parents out to Australia as he was so afraid of nuclear war. I was quite pleased with this one due to the cast and that it was very weird with no explanation as to why the strange things were happening other than “radiation”, it is also a lot more up in tone than most post-nuclear war movies.

Sid and Marty Krofft’s Greatest Saturday Morning Hits

After posting the following trailer to my friend’s wall, I got the message back “You are the ruler Tim! This is boss!”

I had to buy the show then, I did try and find the complete set via a VHS to DVD rip, but the seller turned out to be dodgy – what a surprise! so I settled for this one. There were other boxed sets, but they were either out of print or too expensive.

The rest of the episodes from each of the shows were interesting and even the widely derided “Bigfoot & Wild Boy” was not as bad as people make out. I would recommend this DVD for people who want a taster of some of the shows before they go looking for them online. I learned the lesson with the Banana Splits DVD boxed set as even the creators of the show got sick of it after a while, they had a buggy race that went for six episodes, should have gotten compilation DVD of the Danger Island episodes.


I had not heard of this one before I saw it on the Warner Archive Collection list on the website, looked interesting at least. I ended up being a bit disappointed in it as it does have a good cast including George Carlin doing the narration, but they never seem to make enough of it including the jokes that fall a bit flat.

Luckily it still has an Beach Boys song they wrote for the movie.

And not forgetting Meatloaf vs. a car

Legend of Billie Jean

Q&A from the Cinefamily screening

I forgot where I first heard of this, but was intrigued by the trailer and the news it was having a rare public screening as it hadn’t really been seen since it was released in the 1980s. Also there were rights issues regarding the soundtrack that needed to be resolved.

This is the best DVD of the bunch as far as I am concerned. Sure it may be a bit over the top at times, it is very earnest and the soundtrack suits it perfectly. Also for fans of the Simpsons it is the chance to see an early role outside of Herman’s Head for the voice of Lisa Simpson, Yeardley Smith.

Pat Benetar – Invincible/Legend of Billie Jean music video

Product links:
Urgh! A Music War

Legends of the Superheroes

The Bed Sitting Room

Sid and Marty Krofft’s Greatest Saturday Morning Hits


Legend of Billie Jean