How to Get Rid of Helen

tragicomedy

Typology

feature

Czech title

Jak se zbavit Helenky

Runtime

74

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1967

Production year

1967

Premiere

12.01.1968

Director

Václav Gajer

Screenplay

Zdeněk Mahler

Summary

Ilona Borská’s story Vdovec po snu provided screenwriter Zdeněk Mahler with the basis for a tragicomedy about relationships in which an innocent joke degenerates into black-humoured drama. The narrative’s protagonist is Petříček, a radio announcer with a velvety voice. Colleagues fabricate the character of Helena, who is presented as a sensitive admirer. Petříček’s spirited, emancipated colleague Viki is behind supposed phone calls and letters from Helena. The joke, taken to the extreme, naturally affects Viki too – and almost destroys the ageing, lonely broadcaster... Despite the dramatically overdone ending, director Vaclav Gajer’s motion picture primarily delivers internally harmonised, precise acting. The main roles are taken by Václav Voska and Jiřina Jirásková. She is particularly excellent when it comes to the sophisticated dialogues in the fake calls made to Petříček.

Synopsis

Radio announcer Petříček reads the evening news in a studio. Viki, the female editor of a woman's programme, is annoyed by the stereotypical information he provides as well as by the speaker's melodious voice and his heart-felt performance. Then she gets an idea for a joke. She calls the speaker from the neighbouring room on the phone and pretends to be an unhappily married woman who draws all her strength to live from Petříček's voice. The fifty-year old bachelor is intrigued by the conversation. At work, the divorced thirty-five-year old Viki appears to be a witty and independent woman sarcastically commenting on everything around her. The sports editor who courts her encourages her to continue with her joke. Viki begins to write letters to Petříček in which she confesses to him about her loneliness. The speaker responds to the unknown woman named Helenka with tape recordings which he sends to a poste restante address. Viki, however, is indeed lonesome and unhappy, and invites Petříček for a date to the Central Railway Station. The man spots her there but has no idea that this is the Helenka and hides from her. The disappointed Viki writes him a letter saying farewell to him before committing suicide. Petříček, desperate, gets drunk and attacks a policeman. The doctor at the detention centre where Petříček ends up informs him of the address of the only woman named Helen who died that night. At the funeral of the unknown woman, Petříček starts a scandal with her husband. Viki eventually confesses to Petříček about all the circumstances and they are both sentenced to two weeks' imprisonment for infringement of the public order. In the prison lounge, the two lonesome people finally have a decent conversation - about Helenka.

Cast

Václav Voska

hlasatel Petříček

Jiřina Jirásková

Viki, redaktorka ženského vysílání

Eduard Cupák

sportovní redaktor

Consuela Morávková

rozhlasová technička

Hana Brejchová

hlasatelka Marcelka, Petříčkova kolegyně

Josef Kemr

profesor Slavík

Viola Zinková

kantýnská Helenka

Jan Libíček

rozhlasový technik

Ferdinand Krůta

zemědělský redaktor

Vladimír Stach

zřízenec pohřební služby

František Holar

úředník

Nina Popelíková

žena v seznamovací kanceláři

Oldřich Hoblík

režisér

Stanislav Litera

příslušník VB

Eva Foustková

zřízenkyně s poštou

Jan Diviš

redaktor

Elena Hálková

dáma se psem

Vladimír Navrátil

směnař v rozhlase

Antonín Jedlička

on sám, strýček Jedlička

Josef Svátek

režisér

Václav Halama

opilec v hospodě

Emil Iserle

hlídač v parku

Alois Vachek

úředník u poste restante

Jan Teplý

příslušník VB v kanceláři

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Václav Matějka

Assistant Director

Jaroslav Toms, Irena Klausová

Based on

Ilona Borská (Vdovec po snu – povídka)

Screenplay

Zdeněk Mahler

Shooting Script

Václav Gajer

Script Editor

František Kožík

Second Unit Photography

Alexandr Rašilov

Camera Operator

Antonín Vojáček

Production Designer

Vladimír Labský

Set Designer

Václav Šebek, Ludmila Sovová, František Zajíček

Film Editor

Zdeněk Stehlík

Sound Designer

Jiří Kejř

Production Manager

Jiří Bečka

Unit Production Manager

Josef Hudlička, Olga Mimrová

Unit Production Manager

Jaroslava Pražská

Cooperation

Kateřina Reimanová, Marta Strangmüllerová, Miloslava Vojnová, Marta Kaplerová

Music

Music Composed by

Luboš Fišer

Selected Music

Johann Sebastian Bach

Music Performed by

FISYO

Music Conducted by

Štěpán Koníček (FISYO)

Production info

Original Title

Jak se zbavit Helenky

English Title

How to Get Rid of Helen

Copyright

1967

Production Year

1967

Premiere

12.01.1968

Creative Group

Šebor – Bor, Vladimír Bor, Jiří Šebor

Technical info

Format

35mm , Betacam