The tale of the brave Captain Lechi as he leads his troops to victory.
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Stole Jankovic began his film directing career with ambitious war dramas Strike at Dawn (Kroz granje nebo, 1958) and Partisan Stories (Partizanske priče, 1960), but in the first half of the 1970s he gradually abandoned the creative expression by which he affirmed himself. Inspired by success of the movie The Battle of Neretva (Bitka na Neretvi) directed by Veljko Bulajić, back then, war spectacles based on true events were in vogue, such as Sutjeska (1973) directed by Stipe Delić and Republic of Užice (Užička republika, 1974), directed by Žika Mitrović; Janković’s movie The Partisans (Partizani, also made in 1974) was known for its full commitment to fiction. True, Yugoslav filmmakers dreamed of international reverberation at the time, and hired foreign actors and screenwriters to discover the secret of breaking into the international market.
Janković thus hired Hollywood screenwriter Howard Berk, who knew much more about television than about film, and his main film star, Rod Taylor, was no longer as brilliant in the world of show business. He was accompanied by Greek starlet Xenia Gratsos (she later changed her name to Brioni Farrell), while Adam West was still an idol of the kids who knew him as the television Batman. To avoid any misunderstanding, the biggest movie stars for our viewers were Velimir Bata Živojinović and Olivera Katarina, but their names were not at the forefront.
At the center of the plot is a love triangle, the Jewess Anna Kleitz (Gratsos) recognizes in the German captain (West) the man who has once rescued her, but gets more interested in the partisan Marko (Taylor), which makes the handsome Nazi very jealous..
Despite some solidly directed scenes of the film, that year the movie Republic of Užice was proclaimed the best movie at the Pula Film Festival: the partisan spectacle must have had a real backstory, otherwise they didn’t take it seriously. The movie Partisans has been renamed for the international market into Hell River, but that didn’t really help them break into the world cinemas. Both movies were received favourably in Serbia, they had 250,000 spectators; however, Užička republika generated four times more viewers.
Author: Nenad Polimac
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