Aka - SF - Paraati
Director: Yrjo Norta
Now for something different. A Finish musical comedy. From 1940. It is a
charming very genial very sweet cotton candy film that feels like a stiff
wind would blow it away. The structure is loose and arbitrary as it shifts
from character to character with no real logic but that is part of its charm.
It takes place in Helsinki which is lovely with wide open boulevards, big
lovely cars, not a lot of people, parks and people singing. It is a very
appealing picture. It is springtime. But again this is 1940. Russia invaded
Finland in 1939 after the German-Russian Agreement had ceded Finland to Russia.
Finland did well in this war and they fought them hard. After Germany invaded
Russia, Finland became an ally of Germany and allowed them to station troops
there. Not that you would know from this film other than in an opening scene
you see troops marching, a band playing and you think to yourself, they sure
look like German troops and then for just a second you see a flag with a
swastika on it. Hmmm. you think. But that is it. We never see the troops
or the flag again. It must have been a dream.
From that scene it turns into this very light-hearted romantic comedy with
a few songs popping up from time to time. Not big musical numbers but just
people singing. At one point the police arrest them for singing - no singing
allowed - and I had to wonder if that was making fun of something. There
is nothing in here that would not fit in a Hollywood musical of the time
(except the swastika of course!). Ansa (Ansa Ikonen) is a tour guide giving
her talks in both German and English - an attractive vivacious blonde with
a winning smile - and the men are crazy about her. The bus driver makes a
pass and gets whacked, her boss makes a pass and gets whacked and only the
taxi driver Tanu (Tauno Palo) shows her respect but she gives him the cold
shoulder. But not for long.
He writes a tune and plays it for her in the park - she writes down lyrics
on a napkin - and soon the entire city is singing it but no one knows who
the composer is. There are lots of mix-ups, arguments, oddball characters
like the two brothers who own a restaurant and play practical jokes on one
another who show up but it all leads to a fine musical finale. I guess I
am mainly surprised to discover that Finland was producing musicals - I would
love to see more. So was Germany and Russia that I know of now. I really
like musicals and its great to discover how global they were.