Celebrating the Life and Work of Entertainer Leonid Utesov

By Mosfilm Cinema Concern

Mosfilm Cinema Concern

Leonid Utesov in the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

Leonid Osipovich Utesov, born on 21.03.1895, was a Russian and Soviet singer, reader, conductor, orchestra leader, entertainer, actor. He was a National Artist of the USSR and performed songs in various genres, from jazz to urban romance.

Poster for the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

Jolly Fellows is a 1934 Soviet musical film, directed by Grigori Aleksandrov and starring his wife ...

Jolly FellowsMosfilm Cinema Concern

... Lyubov Orlova, a gifted singer and the first recognized star of Soviet cinema.

Leonid Utesov in the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

Leonid Utyosov was brought up in Odessa, Russian Empire and attended the Faig School of Commerce, from which he dropped out and joined the Borodanov Circus troupe as an acrobat.

Leonid Utesov in the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

He started his stage career in 1911 in Kremenchuk, then returned to Odessa, changed his artistic name to Leonid Utyosov, and performed as a stand up comedian with the Rishelyavsky Theatre.

Leonid Utesov, Lubov Orlova and Fyodor Kurikhin in the "Funny Guys" (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

His popularity was on the rise in the 1930s when he co-starred with Lyubov Orlova in the comedy Jolly Fellows.

Leonid Utesov in the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

During the 1930s, Utyosov and his band, called "Thea-Jazz" (a portmanteau of Theatrical Jazz) had a regular gig at the Marble Hall of the Kirov Palace of Culture in Leningrad.

Leonid Utesov in the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

Both Orlova and her co-star, the jazz singer and comic actor Leonid Utyosov, were propelled to stardom after this movie.

Leonid Utesov in the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

During World War II, Utyosov performed on the front lines, helping lift the spirits of the Soviet soldiers fighting against the Nazis.

Leonid Utesov in the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

It features several songs from Jolly Fellows which instantly became classics across the Soviet Union.

Jolly Fellows (1934/1934)Mosfilm Cinema Concern

The most famous song — "Kak mnogo devushek khoroshikh" (Such a lot of nice girls) — enjoyed international fame, covered as "Serdtse" (Heart) by Pyotr Leshchenko.

Leonid Utesov in the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

Graham Greene, in his 26 September 1935 review for The Spectator, wrote that "it is the best thing that has happened to the cinema since René Clair made The Italian Straw Hat".

Leonid Utesov in the "Funny Guys" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

"The workers in the USSR have introduced to the world an entirely new sort of humour... behind the comedy of Jazz Comedy, but the electrifying strength and vitality and freedom of a working class."

Leonid Utesov on the set of the"Variety Stars" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

Variety Stars is a Soviet feature film set at Mosfilm film studio in 1954.

Leonid Utesov on the set of the"Variety Stars" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

The genre of satirical musical comedy became sort of the film-revue - a cascade of variety numbers with the participation of artists of different genres, with the most popular playing themselves.

Leonid Utesov on the set of the"Variety Stars" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

The film was a precursor to the entertainment "light" genre on Soviet television.

Leonid Utesov on the set of the"Variety Stars" movie (20th Century) by MosfilmMosfilm Cinema Concern

Since the premiere on July 19, 1954 the film was watched by 31.5 million Soviet viewers, at the end of the year it took the 5th place in top releases.

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