6.2/10
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The Demi-Paradise (1943)

Ivan Kouznetsoff, a Russian engineer, recounts during World War II his stay in England prior to the war working on a new propeller for ice-breaking ships. Naive about British people, and ... See full summary »

Director:

Anthony Asquith

Writer:

Anatole de Grunwald (as Anatole De Grunwald)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Laurence Olivier ... Ivan Kouznetsoff
Penelope Dudley-Ward ... Ann Tisdall (as Penelope Ward)
Marjorie Fielding Marjorie Fielding ... Mrs. Tisdall
Margaret Rutherford ... Rowena Ventnor
Felix Aylmer ... Mr. Runalow
George Thorpe George Thorpe ... Herbert Tisdall
Leslie Henson ... Himself
Guy Middleton ... Dick Christian
Michael Shepley ... Mr. Walford
Edie Martin ... Miss Winifred Tisdall
Muriel Aked Muriel Aked ... Mrs. Tisdall-Stanton
Joyce Grenfell ... Sybil Paulson
Everley Gregg Everley Gregg ... Mrs. Flannel
Jack Watling ... Tom Sellars
David Keir David Keir ... Jordan
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Storyline

Ivan Kouznetsoff, a Russian engineer, recounts during World War II his stay in England prior to the war working on a new propeller for ice-breaking ships. Naive about British people, and convinced by hearsay that they are shallow and hypocritical, Ivan is both bemused and amused by them. He is blunt in his opinions about Britons, and at first this puts off his hosts, including the lovely Ann Tisdall, whose grandfather runs the shipbuilding firm that will make use of Ivan's propeller. The longer Ivan stays, however, the more he comes to understand the humor, warmth, strength, and conviction of the British people, and the more they come to see him as a friend, rather than merely a suspicious Russian. As a romantic bond grows between Ivan and Ann, a cultural bond begins to grow as well, particularly as the war begins, and Russia is attacked by Germany. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

20 December 1943 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Adventure for Two See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Anthony Asquith directed Sir Laurence Olivier and Penelope Dudley-Ward in I Stand Condemned (1935), in which Olivier also played a Russian called Ivan. See more »

Goofs

Beatrice Harrison's cello-and-nightingale broadcasts were mostly in the 1920s, but in any case no live broadcast would have been made during an air raid since it would give information to the enemy. (For this reason recordings were used for Big Ben chimes instead of the live feed when an air raid was in progress.) See more »

Quotes

Ivan Kouznetsoff: I don't understand the English.
Mr. Runalow: My dear fellow, who does?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: "Joking decides great things stronger and better oft than earnest can . . ." See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude in C-Sharp Minor
(uncredited)
Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Uncle Joe" Meets "Mrs. Miniver"
11 March 2013 | by robertguttmanSee all my reviews

One has to keep in mind that this British comedy, about the experiences of a Soviet engineer in Britain, was produced at a critical point in the relations between those two nations. Due to the fact that Joseph Stalin had signed a non-aggression pact with Adolf Hitler, the Soviet Union remained neutral after Britain and France went to war against Germany in 1939. The Soviets didn't come into the war as an ally of Britain until the middle of 1941, after Germany invaded Russia. It was not an easiest alliances. Unlike the case of Britain and the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union had almost nothing in common, either politically or linguistically. In fact, British relations with the Soviet Union had been strained ever since the 1917 Revolution.

The Demi-Paradise was produced as an aid to bridging the cultural gap between those two allies, at least from the British point of view. I have no idea whether it was ever shown in Russia, let alone how it would have been perceived by audiences there.

The story concerns a Russian engineer, played by Olivier, who encounters a pair of British seamen ashore in Murmansk during World War II. Typically, the British are complaining about the difficulties they are having among the "foreigners". To their astonishment, Olivier jokingly informs them in English that it is they who are the "foreigners" in Russia, and then proceeds to recount his own experiences as a "foreigner" when he was assigned to do a job in Britain both before, and during, the war.

In addition to being a wartime propaganda film, The Demi-Paradise is full of the sort of self-deprecating humor the British seem to love. While produced in Britain, the script actually was written by a Russian ex-patriot, Anatole de Grunwald. Consequently, one cannot help but feel that the writer brought a lot of his own personal experiences and impressions into the story. The result is very droll, and one cannot help but feel that the protagonist's experiences are probably universal to any stranger in a strange land.


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