The White Lady

comedy, satire

Typology

feature

Czech title

Bílá paní

Runtime

91

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1965

Production year

1965

Premiere

24.09.1965

Language version

Czech

Director

Zdeněk Podskalský

Screenplay

Karel Michal, Zdeněk Podskalský

Screenstory

Karel Michal

Summary

The director Zdeněk Podskalský began his successful comedy career of the 1960s with an incisive comic satire inspired by a short story from writer Karel Michal, Jak Pupenec ke štěstí přišel (How Pupenec Found Happiness). Michal, who was screenwriter for the film, developed the original anecdotal tale into a complex form, which changed Bilá paní (The White Lady) into a chillingly venomous parable about Czechoslovak society at that time. In Michal’s story, a kindly castle ghost – the noblewoman Perchta – in the socialist milieu becomes a victim of lying and greedy communist bosses, who cannot countenance the existence of miracles, which could highlight their own incompetence. At the same time, they con citizens, who know the truth, but who feel like they should go along with everything that’s required of them in front of their neighbours, including their nearest and dearest. Consequently, because a bridge is missing, they eventually “cross” the river with the motto “Shut up and swim.” The hero of the story, the castellan Jindřich Pupenec (played by Vlastimil Brodský) tries in vain to resist the reigning insanity with reason based on healthy belief. Conversely, Percha’s magic formula, “Believe, but think twice about whom you believe,” takes the indestructible eponymous character to Prague Castle – the notional seat of state power – in a symbolic finale. The censors sent Podskalský’s movie to the so-called vault reserved for films that were not permitted to disrupt the civil ethos of the “normalisation” era of Soviet entrenchment that prevailed after the Warsaw Pact invasion. Nonetheless, this charming film is still one of those ageless movies that represent a genre counterweight to the artistic works of the Czechoslovak New Wave. Irena Kačírková also exhibits plenty of charm in the title role, while Rudolf Hrušínský and Miloš Kopecký play the communist manipulators in the fictional village of Komonice with plenty of élan.

Synopsis

In the village of Komonice, lying under the castle of the same name, a miracle comes to pass. One day, the beautiful Perchta, called the White Lady of Komonice, steps out from a painting and, giving her ear to the wishes of the retired peasant Blažková, installs a water-supply system in her house. That night was the castle visited by a group of tipsy local citizens who argued about whether the White Lady really walks around the castle at night under the full moon. Castellan Pupenec deciphered the inscription on the painting with the White Lady - "Trust, but Measure Whom You Trust" - and said the formula out loud. Subsequently, he was the only one to witness Perchta's activities. The life in the village is turned upside down. The chairman of the Municipal National Committee and his secretary suspect each other for their populist policy toward the local citizens, and a special committee from a ministry is dispatched to visit the village. And there appears yet another White Lady on the castle fortification - the waitress Andula who was sent there in a theatre costume by the secretary who wanted to have his revenge on the committee's chairman. The committee, however, witnesses the real Perchta stepping out of the painting. Because it is inappropriate for shortcomings in work to be solved by supernatural means, the Prague delegation steals the painting and stores it in the depository. The bridge which the White Lady was yet to build, is thus missing over the river, although the celebration of the event has been already scheduled and must take place. To the sounds of the band the citizens of the village throw themselves to the water in the very place where the bridge was to be raised, and swim. Only the White Lady does not let herself be bound - she walks right through the bars...

Film online

Cast

Vlastimil Brodský

kastelán Jindřich Pupenec

Rudolf Hrušínský

předseda MNV František

Miloš Kopecký

tajemník MNV

Irena Kačírková

Perchta z Borštejna zvaná Bílá paní komonická

Jiřina Bohdalová

servírka Andula

Josef Bek

pracovník zvláštního oddělení Ministerstva školství a kultury Alois Kudrna

Čestmír Řanda

referent dr. Tomeček

Václav Voska

psychiatr MUDr. Boukal

Vlasta Chramostová

Anežka, Pupencova žena

Vladimír Hlavatý

řídící učitel

Ilja Prachař

Pepík, přednosta úřadu na ministerstvu

Darja Hajská

výměnkářka Blažková, uklízečka na hradě

Václav Trégl

Blažek, manžel uklízečky

Zdeněk Řehoř

farář Vaněček

Vladimír Menšík

okrskář, rotný VB

Josef Vošalík

převozník děda Rejsek

Vladimír Linka

hostinský

Zdeněk Najman

vedoucí komunálu

Helena Růžičková

drůbežářka

Ilona Kubásková

nápověda

Milan Kindl

zaměstnanec komunálu

Vladimír Navrátil

zaměstnanec komunálu

Jaroslav Heyduk

zaměstnanec komunálu

Milan Neděla

zaměstnanec komunálu

J. Daněk

zaměstnanec komunálu

J. Pasterňak

zaměstnanec komunálu

K. Vystrčil

náčelník hasičů

Helena Dubová

sekretářka

Josef Bulík

redaktor Hlasatele

František Suk

úředník komunálu

Miloslav Šindler

úředník komunálu

Jaroslav Kladrubský

úředník komunálu

Zdeněk Týle

úředník komunálu

Jiří Valenta

úředník na ministerstvu

Robert Krásný

syn Pupencových

Michal Prokop

syn Pupencových

Lopatová

dcera Pupencových

Vladimír Cabalka

host v hospodě

Miloš Vavruška

host v hospodě

Robert Vrchota

host v hospodě

Mojmír Ticháček

řidič

J. Pešek

soused

Dubbing

Josef Hlinomaz

hlas zaměstnance komunálu

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Vladimír Zelenka

Assistant Director

Mojmír Ticháček, Dagmar Zelenková

Screenstory

Karel Michal

Based on

Karel Michal (Jak Pupenec k štěstí přišel – povídka ze sbírky Bubáci pro všední den)

Shooting Script

Zdeněk Podskalský

Script Editor

Otto Zelenka

Second Unit Photography

Oldřich Hubáček

Camera Operator

Rudolf Holan

Production Designer

Boris Moravec

Set Designer

Josef Calta, Ludmila Sovová, Miloš Sršeň

Film Editor

Zdeněk Stehlík

Sound Designer

František Šindelář, Bohumír Brunclík (zvukové efekty)

Production Manager

Jiří Pokorný

Unit Production Manager

Jaroslav Jaroš, Vlasta Synkulová

Unit Production Manager

Jaroslava Götzová, Ladislav Dražan

Cooperation

Emanuela Peterová, Ludmila Náprstková, Jiří Kotlář, Vlasta Weiselová, Blanka Vrbecká, Josef Jakoubek, Libuše Koutná, Naděžda Munzarová

Music

Music Composed by

Evžen Illín

Music Performed by

Orchestr Karla Vlacha, FISYO

Music Conducted by

Karel Vlach (Orchestr Karla Vlacha), Štěpán Koníček (FISYO)

Songs

Na hradě Okoři, Pionýři, pionýři, malované děti (/parafráze na Huláni, huláni/), Castaldo

Songwriter

Rudolf Nováček (Castaldo)

Singer

sbor (Na hradě Okoři), sbor (Pionýři, pionýři, malované děti)

Production info

Original Title

Bílá paní

English Title

The White Lady

Copyright

1965

Production Year

1965

Premiere

24.09.1965

Creative Group

Feix – Brož, Miloš Brož, Karel Feix

Technical info

Format

35mm , Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech