A Solo for an Old Lady

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1978

Production year

1978

Premiere

21 September 1979

Runtime

87 min

Category

film

Genre

drama, psychological

Typology

featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Sólo pro starou dámu

Czech title

Sólo pro starou dámu

English title

A Solo for an Old Lady

Working title

Polka na rozloučenou

Summary

In 1978, director Václav Matějka filmed this adaptation of the novel Rychlík z Normiberka (Nuremberg Express) by author Valja Stýblová. This psychological drama served as actress Jiřina Šejbalová’s last on-screen appearance. The 73-year-old plays a Czech women, who married a German man shortly before the start of World War II. After three decades abroad, the ageing Marie Hahnová returns home, but does not find the serenity she had been seeking. Former neighbours and distant relatives have not forgotten that her husband hated the Czechs – and moreover, accuse her family of being Gestapo informers. For Marie, unaware of anything of the kind, such accusations represent a huge shock… Director Matějka emphasises the shallower, and more ideologically acceptable aspects of the story, making his feature an excellent example of hardcore “normalization” era propaganda. The fact that he was provided with expensive, widescreen colour film stock, shows that those in charge at Barrandov film studios in Prague during these times very much rewarded directors willing to tow the party line.

Synopsis

Marie Hahnová, a Czech woman who married a German shortly before World War II, comes to visit Czechoslovakia after thirty years. Her daughter Margit has made an arrangement with an old friend of her mother's, Irena and with the family of Věra Pechlátová's daughter, that Marie will stay with her in Prague. Marie is spellbound by the city; she visits well-known places, even a lively music hall. The Pechláts do their best to make Marie's stay enjoyable. Only Zdena Lhotáková, Marie's niece, does not rush to greet her aunt. She has a good reason for it: her brother Jiří was shot dead by the Germans during the war and Zdena is convinced that it was Margit who turned him in. Marie knows nothing of the incident. The Pechláts take her for a trip to the region where she was born. Marie is excited at the prospect of meeting her countrymen, but she finds that she is not welcome. People cannot forget that Hahn, her husband, hated Czechs. When visiting the Lhotáks, they start talking about what happened during the occupation. Marie insists that she did not know about anything bad going on. Finally, though, the former handmaid Běta tells her that Margit turned in their neighbour Franěk to the Gestapo. Hearing this news, Marie collapses with a heart attack. Doctors recommend that she return home. Margit, however, does not want her back. She and her husband are leaving for Brazil and her mother would be in their way. Marie eventually returns, but only to find the villa completely empty. She learns about the reality of the situation from the driver of the laundry van.

Cast

Jiřina Šejbalová

Marie Hahnová

Alena Vránová

Margit, Mariina dcera

Marie Rosůlková

Irena, Mariina přítelkyně

Dana Medřická

úřednice Věra Pechlátová, Irenina dcera

Josef Větrovec

instalatér František, Věřin manžel

Jaroslav Satoranský

taxikář Makovský

Karel Vochoč

Rožánek

Zdena Hadrbolcová

Anča, Rožánkova žena

Věra Galatíková

Zdena Lhotáková, Mariina neteř

Otakar Brousek

inženýr Lhoták, Zdenin muž

Vilém Pfeiffer

Vojta Šindelář

Milan Riehs

Karl Schwanzer, Mariin zeť

Václav Vydra

Pavel, syn Pechlátových

Lenka Kořínková

Pralinka, dcera Rožánkových, Pavlova žena

Nina Popelíková

Běta Koulová, bývalá služebná

Marie Motlová

Holíková

Jiří Korn

zpěvák

Ivana Andrlová

Lída, dcera Lhotákových

Jana Gýrová

dcera Coufalových

Gabriela Osvaldová

dcera Coufalových

Jan Cmíral ml.

syn Coufalových

Petr Pospíchal

mladý inženýr

Milan Sandhaus

řidič dodávky s prádlem

Petr Skarke

německý celník

Karel Chromík

mistr na stavbě

Pavla Maršálková

žena v šátku

Karel Bělohradský

vyvolávač na pouti

Lena Birková

příbuzná

Věra Laňková

příbuzná

Erna Březinová

baletka

Jana Ostrá

baletka

Kateřina Štorkánová

baletka

Miroslav Lonský

dirigent

Josef Šedivý

kapelník

Václav Blažej

hudebník

Václav Bor

hudebník

Karel Braniš

hudebník

Jaroslav Hrdina

hudebník

Jindřich Matouš

hudebník

Antonín Volf

hudebník

Chaloupka

hudebník

Jungman

hudebník

Kofroň

hudebník

Kopec

hudebník

Musel

hudebník

Šebek

hudebník

Šifta

hudebník

Vávra

hudebník

Horský

houslista

Jan Konšal

harmonikář

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Miroslav Kubišta

Assistant Director

Jitka Hoferková, Jindřiška Novotná

Based on

Valja Stýblová (Rychlík do Norimberka – novela)

Shooting Script

Václav Matějka

Script Editor

Karel Cop

Director of Photography

František Uldrich

Second Unit Photography

Jiří Hošek

Camera Operator

Jiří Pechar

Production Designer

Bohumil Pokorný

Set Designer

Vladimír Ježek, Žák Jiří (2), Ladislav Winkelhöfer

Costume Designer

Zdena Kadrnožková

Film Editor

Josef Valušiak

Sound Designer

Jiří Hora

Special Effects

Trikový ateliér FSB

Production Manager

Jaroslav Solnička

Unit Production Manager

Milan Štěch, Ladislav Beneš

Unit Production Manager

Lucie Hertlová

Music

Music Composed by

Petr Hapka

Music Performed by

FISYO (Music Conducted by František Belfín),

Choreographer

Jan Hartmann

Songs

Dáme svému smutku pa, au revoir

Songwriter Petr Hapka
Writer of Lyrics Zdeněk Rytíř
Singer Hana BuštíkováJiří Korn

Praha je krásná

Songwriter Josef Stelibský
Writer of Lyrics Karel MelíškJaroslav Mottl
Singer Dana MedřickáJosef VětrovecMarie RosůlkováJiřina Šejbalová

Hájku, háječku

Singer sbor

V tom starém domě

Songwriter Karel Hašler
Writer of Lyrics Karel Hašler
Singer sbor

Vykovej, kováři, železný obruče

Singer sbor

Pod našima okny teče vodička

Ty musíš má milá něco na mě vědět

Singer sbor

Production info

Original Title

Sólo pro starou dámu

Czech Title

Sólo pro starou dámu

English Title

A Solo for an Old Lady

Working Title

Polka na rozloučenou

Category

film

Typology

featuretheatrical distribution

Genre

drama, psychological

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1978

Production Year

1978

Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 2 January 1978
start of filming 6 May 1978
technical Screenplay approved 19 June 1978
end of filming 13 December 1978
projection approval 18 December 1978

Premiere

premiere 21 September 1979

Creative Group

Dramaturgická skupina Drahoslava Makovičky, Drahoslav Makovička (vedoucí dramaturgické skupiny)

Technical info

Duration typology

feature film

Duration in minutes

87 min

Original length in metres

2 482 meters

Distribution carrier

35mm

Aspect ratio

1:1,66, 1:2,35

Colour

colour

Sound

sound

Sound system/format

mono

Versions

Czech

Dialogue languages

Czech

Subtitles languages

without subtitles

Opening/End credits languages

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Festival: 17. festival českých a slovenských filmů Hradec Králové

1979
Hradec Králové / Czechoslovakia
Jiřina Šejbalová

Vítěz

Festival: 17. festival českých a slovenských filmů Hradec Králové

1979
Hradec Králové / Czechoslovakia
František Uldrich

Vítěz

Festival: 24. mezinárodní filmový festival Valladolid

1979
Valladolid / Spain
Jiřina Šejbalová

Vítěz

Festival: 30. filmový festival pracujících – léto ´79

1979
62 měst / Czechoslovakia
Jiřina Šejbalová