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Literature / Romance with a Double Bass

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"Romance with a Double Bass" is a short story (only three pages long!) by Anton Chekhov, that was later adapted into a 1974 featurette from the United Kingdom. The adaptation was written by John Cleese, Connie Booth, and Bill Owen.

Smychkov, a bassist, shows up too early for the ball of a beautiful princess, and decides to spend his extra time skinny dipping in the nearby lake. The princess, meanwhile, has gone fishing at the lake, and later decides to go skinny dipping as well. However, things change when a thief absconds with both Smychkov's and the Princess's clothes, and while the Princess is wandering around, she meets Smychkov. After their initially embarrassing encounter, he tries to help her return to the castle by hiding her in his bass case.

The first film adaptation of this story was made in Russia in 1911 as a short silent, directed by Kai Hansen. This is available on YouTube.

Tropes in the short story:

Tropes in the 1911 film adaptation:

Tropes in the 1974 film adaptation:

  • Behind a Stick: At one point in the film, Smychkov hides behind a statue with his head barely concealed behind the head.
  • Fanservice: Necessarily, a lot of skin is on display; Connie Booth has to get into a double bass case.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: In the film, Smychkov is briefly apprehended as a thief because he took the princess' dress and shoes from her bedroom in order to deliver them to her while she was hiding naked in his double bass case.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: In-universe only; otherwise averted in the film.
  • Uptown Girl: In the film, the princess and the humble musician Smychkov explicitly develop feelings for each other.
  • With Catlike Tread: In the film, Smychkov has to sneak past all the servants in order to fetch the princess' dress and then her shoes, while wearing much-too-tight shoes that squeak with every step.