Swimming, skateboarding and break-dancing: summer leisure of Muscovites in movies of the 1950s and 1980s

June 23

Watching an old movie is a great opportunity to visit the Moscow of the past, to see the citizens and its guests at that time, to walk along the familiar and unfamiliar streets at the same time. Summer Moscow is especially beautiful in the cinema. In different decades of the twentieth century, new objects became the main points of attraction here.

We have already seen boating in the Neskuchny Garden in the Children of the Century (1915), walking on the hippodrome in the Cigarette Girl from Mosselprom(1924), jumping from a tower in Gorky Park in the Private Life of Peter Vinogradov (1934) and training at the Dynamo stadium in The First Glove (1946). We continue to inspect our favorite movies together with the Moscow history expert Tatyana Vorontsova. The next thing on the agenda are the 1950s and 1980s.

1950s: river trips on the motor ships

Behind the Window of a Department Store (1955), directed by Samson Samsonov

Behind the Window of a Department Store is a bit of a production drama, a bit of a comedy, and even a bit of a detective story. Mikhail Ivanovich Krylov (Ivan Dmitriev), a former major in the Soviet Army, and now the head of the ready – made dress department, is involved in an unpleasant story. In the shop under his jurisdiction, cloth missing is found. Krylov is rescued by the director of the Zarya clothing factory Anna Andreevna (Natalia Medvedeva), despite the conflict that has arisen. The department store employees also come to Krylov's aid, having organized their own investigation. The cunning scheme of stealing men's suits will be revealed, justice will prevail, but first we will plunge into the life that is boiling behind the window of the department store.

Every morning, beautiful saleswomen rush here to change into uniform robes and stand behind the counters, small and large dramas are played out here and novels are started. It is hard to believe that the department store in the movie is not real: a large film set was built especially for filming in the Mosfilm pavilions. But the consultant was the director of the department store of the most real one – GUM. He also provided the movie props, providing a variety of goods. The assortment is impressive, given the domestic shortage – porcelain, toys, records and even stockings of a special cut.

Employees of the trade enterprise also find time for leisure. As a group, they go for a motor ship trip, sing, dance and meet the magnificent sunset.

«Motor ship trips were very popular, and their formats varied from weekend tours to large sightseeing trips. There are many postcards and posters on this topic, the slogan ‘Moscow – the Port of the Five Seas’ was widely spread, and the building of the Northern River Station can be seen in many movies of different decades: Volga-Volga, Colleagues, Citizens, Vertical Racing and others," Tatyana Vorontsova says.

1960s: relaxing by the pool

Leon Garros is Looking for his Friend (1960), directed by Marcello Pagliero

The first joint Soviet-French movie. The movie is unusual, "almost a documentary", as the offscreen voice declares at the very beginning. The main character, the French journalist Leon Garros, was acted by a non-professional actor Leon Zitron. He was indeed a journalist and a very popular sports commentator. Zitron was born in Russia, so a business trip to the USSR was especially important for him. By the way, the actor was fluent in Russian, but the film creators decided not to use it. His hero Leon Garros comes to Moscow to make a report, but his main goal is to find his friend Boris, with whom they escaped from a Nazi concentration camp 15 years ago. To find a friend, the Frenchman will have to travel not only half-way round Moscow, but also half-way round the country. In the way, he will face a lot of adventures, discoveries and casual situations.

Moscow appears in the movie in all its glory — "pink as Toulouse", in the words of an admiring Garros. Indeed, the houses on Leninsky Street, through which the main characters enter the city, have a pinkish tinge in the movie. Together with foreigners, we will see a panorama from the Vorobiovy Gory, the Kievskaya metro station with elegant mosaics, Tverskaya with hurrying brand-new Muskvitches and Pobedas cars, the Mayakovsky monument with poetry readers and, of course, the symbol of Moscow at that time – the Stalin skyscrapers. But most of all we are interested in the legendary Chaika pool.

Built for the VI World Festival of Youth and Students in 1957, it immediately became one of the most fashionable places in the capital. Its visitors - Soviet young men and women - look just like foreigners in the film: the legacy of the same festival has its effect on them. By the way, not only the Soviet youth copied the French age-mates – there was also a reverse influence. After the victory of Kalatozov's masterpiece Cranes Fly at the Cannes Film Festival, young French women was applying make-up like Samoilova. By the way, it is Tatiana Samoilova we meet at the Chaika pool (more precisely, of course, her heroine – singer Natasha).

"This was the first outdoor pool that was open all year round, and you could swim here even in winter. It was also a training base for the national teams in water sports, but it remained publicly accessible, and the townspeople loved to relax there," Tatyana Vorontsova says. “In this movie, we see the original Chaika (Seagul) car which will be reconstructed later. You can clearly see the interesting shape of the diving tower, as well as the buildings on the other side of the pool, closer to Ostozhenka. That time, there were classical forms – columns, a dome, which fit well into a number of nearby Ostozhenka manor houses. All this was rebuilt for the Olympic Games-80 and decorated not in the classical, but in the modernist style."

1970s: restaurants by the water

For Family reasons (1977), directed by Alexey Korenev

Alexey Korenev's comedy about the search for a separate accomodation unit and family happiness very accurately captures the signs of the time: illegal brokers using passwords and code words, people puzzled by the exchange of apartments, house parties and art exhibitions.

Young spouses Igor (Evgeny Steblov) and Lida (Marina Dyuzheva), who have just become parents, are trying to combine work and family, as well as to involve Lida's mother Galina Arkadyevna (Galina Polskikh) in the upbringing of their daughter. But the latter resists – she has a successful career, and in general she does not really like her daughter's husband. But soon she marries herself, turn into a daughter-in-law and feel what it was like for her son-in-law all these years. Wayward mother-in-law Isolda Tikhonovna (Evgenia Khanaeva) soon also becomes in the place of Galina Arkadyevna – she is proposed to by a long-time admirer, whose mother never liked her. The film was loved by the audience not only because of the funny and relevant plot – it has a stunning cast: the aforementioned actors are joined by Yevgeny Evstigneev, Roland Bykov, Anatoly Papanov, Vladimir Basov and others.

There is another sign of the time in the movie – the restaurant of the Northern River Station, very popular among Muscovites and guests of the capital. Here Isolda Tikhonovna comes to dine with her boyfriend.

"The restaurants in the northern and southern ends of the Northern River Station were considered very prestigious due to the view of the canal, good cuisine. Even in the movie, we see decently served tables, and the hero of Basov notes the service”, says the Moscow history expert. “In general, in the 1970s and 80s, cafes, restaurants, pubs, shashlik house and other similar establishments became a mass phenomenon and a common form of leisure.”

1980s: skateboarding and break-dancing

The Courier (1986), directed by Karen Shakhnazarov

The young people in the philosophical parable of Karen Shakhnazarov have completely different problems. They have everything in order with the accommodation, but with plans for the future, dreams and values are more difficult. They don't know what they want, but they know they don't want to be like their parents. The story of the meeting and parting of the professor's daughter Katya (Anastasia Nemolyaeva) and the wayward courier Ivan (Fyodor Dunaevsky) took the audience and critics by storm. The film have become a smash hit, received a special jury prize at the Moscow International Film Festival and was recognized as the best picture of 1987 by the Soviet Screen magazine.

On its first working day, Ivan has to take the manuscript home to Katya's father, Professor Kuznetsov, but he is very late, because on the way he meets a friend and goes with him to the Vorobyovy Gory for skateboarding.

“In the 80s, skateboarders were at the top of fashion. The rode on Vorobyovy Gory, on Mayakovskaya, on VDNKh, in Gorky Park and in the area of Olympiysky. On Vorobyovy Gory - we see this in the movie - there were very suitable tracks under a slight slope, which allowed developing speed. Skateboards were manufactured in Rostov, Tolyatti, Leningrad and other Russian cities, but the best ones were from the Baltic Republics, everyone dreamed of them. They cost about 50 rubles - not the cheapest enjoyment," Tatyana Vorontsova says.

Another youth trend captured by Shakhnazarov was break-dancing. They started dancing it in the cafe At the Fountain in the Olympic Village, there was even a separate day dedicated to the break-dancing. There is a cafe in the film: Ivan and his friends are resting here.

"The people called this cafe Moloko (Milk), because they did not sell alcohol, but only milkshakes. It was a place of worship, the first club in the modern sense of the word. There were the most famous break dancers there – they say that Shakhnazarov took the guys from there for filming. However, in the movie, the break is danced on Dovzhenko Street, that is, in a residential area. I'm not sure that this could be seen in reality, such characters were more likely to meet, for example, on the Arbat," says the Moscow history expert.
Source: mos.ru

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