Surprise Russian Oscar Winner Vladimir Menshov dies at 81

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Prolific Soviet actor and director Vladimir Menshov, who won an Academy Award for best foreign film in 1980 for “Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears,” but was criticized by many American critics, died in a Moscow hospital on July 5. He was 81 years old.

Russian film studio and production company Mosfilm said the reason was complications from Covid-19.

Delighting a soapy, melodramatic crowd, “Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears” captured the attention of nearly 90 million moviegoers in the Soviet Union shortly after its theatrical release in 1980, even after its televised release in 1980. The theme song, “Alexandra” by Sergey Nikitin and Tatyana Nikitina, became one of the country’s favorite soundtracks.

Even so, when “Moscow,” the second film directed by Mr. Menshov, won the Oscar, it was a surprise given that year’s competition. stepped aside François Truffaut“The Last Subway” and Akira Kurosawa“The Nest” by Spanish director Jaime de Armiñán and “Confidence” by Hungarian director Istvan Szabo, as well as “Shadow Warrior”.

Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote, “There was more condescending goodwill behind Oscar’s vote for ‘Moscow’ than aesthetic discrimination.” It was reviewed The movie released in the United States after its Oscar victory.

The film follows three girls in pursuit of boyfriends who stay for young women in a Moscow hotel in the late 1950s and revisit them 20 years later. The director’s wife and daughters played Vera Alentova, the mother of Yuliya Menshova. Both get rid of it.

Mr. Arnold noted that Mr. Menshov’s film “revival of a genre as credible as it seems that Hollywood has failed to sustain: the story of a trio of country girls, often in search of careers and/or mates in the big city” — at the time, chronologically, “Stage”. Genre ranging from “Door” (1938) to “Valley of Babies” (1967).

by Vincent Canby New York Times He admitted the film was “decently played”, but said that at two and a half hours it “seemed endless”.

There are suggestions of social satire from time to time,” Mr. Canby wrote, “but they are so mild that they may surprise and interest only an over-prudent, unreconstructed Stalinist.”

While Mr. Canby thinks it is understandable that “Moscow” is one of the most successful films in the Soviet Union, “the part of Mr. Menshov’s biography (in the program) that reports his failure in his first three years can also be believed. He studied at the Cinema Institute in Moscow and was not much more successful as an acting student at the Moscow Art Theatre.

“I’m assuming we were told all this,” he added sternly, “to underline the lack of meaning in these early failures, but apparently it seems to have been summed up in the Oscar winner.”

Vladimir Valentinovich Menshov was born on September 17, 1939 in Baku (now Azerbaijan) into a Russian family. His father, Valentin, was an undercover police officer. His mother, Antonina Alexandrovna (Dubovskaya) Menshov, was a housewife.

As a teenager, Vladimir held blue-collar jobs as a machinist, miner, and sailor before being accepted into the Moscow Art Theater School. After graduating from school in 1965 and from the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in 1970, he worked at Mosfilm, Lenfilm and Odessa Film studios.

He had over 100 credits as an actor and was also a screenwriter. He made his directorial debut with the movie “Practical Joke” in 1976.

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