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Film / The Intervention (1968)

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The Intervention is a 1968 Soviet film directed by Gennady Poloka. It is a historical extravaganza comedy.

It is set in Odessa in the spring of 1919 when the intervention by the Entente (a moniker for the French and English tropps) in the Russian Civil war takes place. Main character, played by Vladimir Vysotsky, is a tutor of Zhenka, the son of the banker named Xidias, and at the same time a head of the revolutionary underground. He fights for communism, trying to bring about a better tomorrow for the workers. Zhenka Xidias is torn apart by his passion for revolution, a revolutioner girl Sanka (Alexandra) and gambling.



  • Ambiguously Jewish: Brodsky is a Jewish and Voronov is a Russian surname. It is indicated in the wanted poster that he knows Yiddish. However he also knows many other languages, including the non-existent "Odessan". Plus it is a 1910's Odessa so even a Gentile could very easily speak Yiddish there.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Madam Xidias might qualify.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The French have left as well as the bourgeoisie and the communist cause is victorious. However Brodsky/Vorovov is dead.
  • Bookends The the beginning the French troops arrive greeted by the cheering bourgeois crowd. In the end they depart as well as those of the bourgeois who manage to board the much-overloaded ships which leave Odessa as it is about to be taken by the Reds.
  • Cameo: By a very acclaimed arthopuse director Marlen Khutsiev is the French commandant.
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  • Character Filibuster: Brodsky talks about how the communist cause is just and the bourgeois are vicious. Well, the film was made in the Soviet Ukraine half a century after the Revolution. His pretty speeches make for a Mood Whiplash when juxtaposed to the chaotic buffoonery scenes.
  • Chronic Backstabbingdisorder: For Zhenka Xiadis who betrays various parts in the course of the movie.
  • Dark Action Girl: Madam Tokarchuk who wears a black dress and fights much better than male members of her gang.
  • Dawson Casting: The actor playing Zhenka, the youthful tutee of Voronov, is actually only 3 years younger than Vysotsky.
  • The Determinator: Sanka who is eager to get.
  • Expy: Jeanne Barbier for the real French communist Jeanne Labourbe who was indeed shot by the French in Odessa.
  • Fake Assisted Suicide: Played with. When Zhenka comes to the chemist and asks him first for opium to kill himself then for a poison which will kill him painlessly the chemist gives him first the one, then another drug. When Zhenka also rejects the last one, the chemist drinks it from the glass himself and it proves to be harmless. However the opium pills he first gives to Zhenka are genuine so he still could kill himself with them.
  • The Gambling Addict: Zhenka Xiadis is the one.
  • Greek Chorus: A set of four characters symbolising four card suits. Oddly they all played by the same actor, Sergey Yursky.
  • I Have Many Names: Eugene Brodsky/Michel Voronov is also known as "comrade Stepan" to sailors and Andrey Zharkov to workers. As it is said by the announcer in the end.
  • The Hero Dies: Brodsky is shot by the interventionists shortly before they depart.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Zhenka Xidias that he took all his character flaws from his mother, the banker Xidias.
  • Mood Whiplash: Quite a few of those, this work is an emotional rollercoaster.
  • Moral Event Horizon: For Zhenka Xidias when he betrays both Brodsky and Sanka.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: For four French soldiers who decided to remain in the revolutionary Russia as the rest of the French army sailed away. They go off by the Odessa street.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: For Sanka when she is shot during a car chase. She is shot in the hand and this wound is never mentioned afterwards.
  • Regretful Traitor: Zhenka is at times that but he cannot help as he is a gambler.
  • Running Gag: When people break into the drugstore, and demand various things from the chemist (Zhenka asks for the opium and the gang for the cocaine) the chemist always asks the intruders whether they have the document or receipt.
    • Also the fact that all three times in a row when someone intrudes into the drugstore they shoot in front of the door and the chemist runs to open it. Fourth time the intruders shoot at the door and break its glass.
  • Safecracking: It happens in the Vault of the bank belonging to madam Xiadis. Played for the absurdist comedy as, having cracked one safe, the gang sees on the other side the room where madam Xiadis herself has sex with the French commandant.
  • Shout-Out: The name of the cabaret, The Capture of the Dardanelles reminds of the failed plans of the Tsarist Russia to gain the lands making up that straight after the victory in the WWI.
  • Sickly Green Glow: Played very straight for the drugs (including poisons) in the drugstore.
  • The Squadette: Madam Tokarchuk is the one in her gang. He is the most dangerous too when it comes to manual combat.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Sanka and Zhenka.
  • Stylistic Suck: Of a Narmy way for the cabaret duo who sing criminally-themed couplets in the venue named "The Capture of the Dardanelles". Their performance is so poor that a gang leader drives them away from the scene and performs markedly better.
  • The Reason You Suck: Brodsky delivers a denigrating speech about the French officer to his soldiers when the officer tries to stop his subversive activity in his unit.
  • Visual Pun: The floor in one of the sets has a pattern looking like a target. In the end Michel is found by Sanka in this hall.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: A literally omnipresent trope as the posters for Brodsky are seen nearly everywhere. They don't lead to his capture.
  • Woobie: Zhenka Xidias who is very easily depressed.