From gardens to stadiums. Summer leisure of Muscovites in movies of the 1910s - 1940s

June 17

How Muscovites rested in the last century You can learn this not only from archival documents, but also from Soviet movies. In the article there are four excellent movies that can clearly show what kind of summer leisure Muscovites preferred at different times. About the important details that you need to pay attention to when viewing, the Moscow history expert Tatiana Vorontsova tells.

1910s: pleasure boat trips

Children of the Century (1915), directed by Eugene Bauer

Still from Children of the Century movie. Directed by Eugene Bauer. 1915

The melodrama with the silent movies star Vera Kholodnaya in the title role, which appeared on the screens in October 1915, was a great success. The plot is simple: a young woman, Maria (Vera Kholodnaya), is seduced by a successful merchant, Lebedev (Arseny Bibikov). The heroine is tempted by a luxurious life and leaves her husband, taking her young son with her. All this leads to a tragic ending. And the blame for everything is an insidious girl friend who introduced the heroine to the fatal seducer.

One of the key and most striking scenes of the movie are the trips on boats decorated with flowers on the Catherine’s Pond in the Neskuchny Sad (Not-Boring Garden). For the cinema sector of that time, it was a technically complex and very spectacular scene. It is after the holiday on the water that the heroine of the Vera Kholodnaya ceases to resist the persistent courtship of Lebedev. Impressed by the nonchalant pastimes, she chooses a beautiful and, as it seems to her, carefree lifestyle. However, the holiday turns out to be fleeting.

Boating in Neskuchny Sad was a favorite summer pastime of Muscovites in the middle of the XIX century. Here, not only reckless bon vivants rested, but also families with children.

At the beginning of the movie, there is another legendary Moscow place: the enfilade of the Upper Merchants' Rows, which we now know as GUM (State Department Store). It is easy to recognize the characteristic bridges connecting the shopping galleries. This place also plays a turning point in the plot: here Maria meets an old friend who will take an active part in the future fate of the heroine.

Still from Children of the Century movie. Directed by Eugene Bauer. 1915

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1920s: horse races visiting

Cigarette Girl from Mosselprom (1924), directed by Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky

The young beauty Zina Vesenina (Yulia Solntseva) is a simple cigarette seller. Two admirers are fighting for her heart at once - assistant accountant Mityushin (Igor Ilyinsky) and cameraman Latugin (Nikolai Tseretelli). The stakes are raised when an American merchant McBright enters the fray. After a series of incidents and adventures, Zina prefers Latugin. The lucky guy is shooting his young wife in the leading role of the new movie.

Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky's romantic comedy, appeared on the Soviet screens in 1924, primarily satirizes the morals of Muscovites of the 1920s and the Nepman way of life. For the modern viewer, this is primarily a document of the era, in addition, an important picture for the history of domestic cinema. Special attention should be paid to the cast: the leading actors became national favorites after the fantastic movie Aelita, which premiered shortly before The Cigarette Girl from Mosselprom.

There is a lot of old Moscow cine-shooting in Zhelyabuzhsky's movie. Together with the heroes, we visit Khodynka airfield, square of the Belorussko-Baltiysky railway station (later simply Belarussky), Novaya Square, walk along the Kremlin Embankment and Prechistenka street, in the vicinity of the Zachatievsky convent and many other places. But perhaps the most interesting place captured in the movie is the hippodrome. Zina is going there with McBright. The characters watch the horse races and walk by the magnificent fountain located inside the racing circle.

A still from the Cigarette Girl from Mosselprom movie. Director Yu. Zhelyabuzhsky. 1924

The Moscow Hippodrome is the oldest one in the country, the first race was held there in 1834. The hippodrome has always been popular with Muscovites, people came there to rattle their nerves, make a bet, relax in a restaurant. The hippodrome became especially popular by the 1930s. Its regulars were famous actors and writers, as well as political figures.

The movie captures the old two-story building of the hippodrome. In 1949, there was a fire here. A beautiful building in the style of the Stalin Empire, familiar to us, appeared on the site of a burnt-out building after six years of reconstruction.

1930s and 1940s: tower jumping

The Private Life of Pyotr Vinogradov (1934), directed by Alexander Macheret

In 1934, a sound movie with an unusual name for Soviet ideology and a rather hooligan plot appeared on the screens. The main character of The Private Life of Pyotr Vinogradov is a simple guy who, together with two friends, comes from the provinces to Moscow to study and work. He was played by Boris Livanov, the father of Vasily Livanov - the popular performer of Sherlock Holmes role.

A still from The Private Life of Pyotr Vinogradov movie. Directed by A. Macheret. 1934

Pyotr Vinogradov is far from the ideal of a Soviet youth: he go about with his head high in the air, does not really appreciate his comrades, and, having forgotten about his beloved left at home, begins to pay court another girl - the athlete Tonya. Immediately after acquaintance, Pyotr and Tonya go to Gorky Park to jump from a parachute tower - a very popular attraction of that time. At first, Peter is afraid to jump and persuades his companion to go downstairs (‘This has its own charm: everyone jumps, and we will get off’).

"This parachute tower was erected almost immediately after the opening of Gorky Park. In the 1930s, it was a symbol of the park, like the Ferris wheel in later times. It stood not far from the main entrance, closer to the embankment of the Moskva River. You could jump off it with a parachute, or you could slide down a spiral slide," Tatiana Vorontsova, a Moscow expert and guide, says.

Another meeting place for Petya and Tonya is another diving-tower - the no longer existing aquatic sports station on the Frunzenskaya Embankment. Now it is hard to believe that there was a whole sports center with bleachers, diving-tower and lap lanes. The place was very popular with Muscovites. To impress Tonya, the hero decides to jump from the tower into the water; however, this jump is not as successful as the previous one - with a parachute.

"Until the water stadium that we know today has been built, it was located opposite Gorky Park on the opposite side from the Crimean Bridge and in the direction of the Frunzenskaya Embankment. The embankments themselves were like bleachers - this is clearly seen in the movie. There was a fenced off sector for water sports, lap lanes, - says Tatyana Vorontsova. — There was also a place for water pushball, a popular entertainment in the 1930s: two teams push a huge ball through the water. This game is still shown in the movie Strong-Willed Girl, but there the characters are already playing at the new water stadium."

The First Glove (1946), directed by Andrey Frolov

Alexander Frolov's post-war comedy was a huge success with Soviet audiences. In 1947, it became one of the smash hits - it was watched by more than 18.5 million people. Ordinary viewers loved the film, but the critics of that time were perplexed and reproached it for its banality.

The main character Nikita Krutikov (Ivan Pereverzev) has extraordinary strength. Having been noticed the potential of a boxer in him, the coach of the Meteor society Privalov (Vladimir Volodin) invites the young man to his sports society. By a funny coincidence, the hero gets to Privalov's competitors - to the Motor sports club (the reason for this is the consonance of the sport societies name and the cunning of the Motor head coach). On the way to triumph, Krutikov is waited for love, victories and defeats, doubts and many comic situations. You can still laugh at them today, but it is much more important that the film provides an opportunity to see in details the main sports facilities of post-war Moscow.

One of them is a water stadium, but not the one that we went to with the heroes of the previous movie, but a new one, built on the Moskva-Volga canal in the mid-1930s.

"In the center of the stadium, a very distinctive dovetail-shaped diving tower was erected. It has long remained a symbol of this sports complex. In 1980, the Olympic Games were held there, and in the 1960s it was a very popular leisure location for Muscovites. There, of course, training sessions of various sports teams were held at certain hours, but in principle it was an open place for Muscovites recreation. There they could come to sunbathe, swim, play in the water, and if you had the courage to dive from the tower," Tatiana Vorontsova says.

Still from The First Glove movie. Directed by Andrey Frolov. 1946

There is also another iconic sports ground of that time in the movie - the Dynamo Stadium on Leningradsky Prospekt. According to the movie plot, it is here that both boxing societies are located - both Meteor and Motor. In real life, the stadium really had a lot of different sports classes. Sports competitions, parades, football matches were held there. In short, Dynamo Stadium was the sports center of the capital.

"Since the 1920s and 1930s, the sports popularization has become an important state program. We tried to make the rest more sporty" Tatyana Vorontsova explains. “Sports grounds and stadiums, rowing stations, water sports centers appeared. Sports parades, Sports Competitions of the peoples of the USSR, and so on were held. So active recreation combined with sports is very much in the context of that time, and I think it is not a coincidence that it is shown in the movies."


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