Communal Living in Russia: From Films
Scenes from Feature Films: From The Magic Power of Art
  Summary
  A funny (or perhaps not-so-funny?) story about a stage actor who helps an elderly woman bring her obnoxious neighbors to heel. By permission of the Lenfilm Movie Studio. Director, Naum Virman. Screenplay by Dragunsky. Featuring Arkady Raikin. 1970.
  Translation of the Russian Transcript
  Visitor: Hi there! So, are you Sergeeva, or what?

Female Neighbor: You have to ring twice for Sergeeva.

Visitor: Well?.. Well, I could care less. I can ring twice, anyway. I can ring again. So, invite me in. Invite me in. Come on, come on, come on. Huh? Come on, come on, come on. Well!

Female Neighbor: Oh my goodness!

Visitor: Step lively, now. Come on, step lively, I say. You're creeping along at a snail's pace.

Female Neighbor: What?

Visitor: Come on, come on, come on, come on.

Female Neighbor: Here's Sergeeva.

Visitor: Ah. Okay. So. Hmmmm. So... So, you're the one who posted the note about an exchange? Right?

Sergeeva: Yes, that's right.

Visitor: So, let's see... Well, I'll just tell it to you straight: personally, I personally, would, I would... What, does this look out on the garbage dumpsters?

Sergeeva: No, onto the garden.

Visitor: The garden. How nice. Personally I would never do an exchange, never in my life. No... but, you see, it's a whole long involved story. You see, I, you see... Yeah.

Sergeeva: What is it?

Visitor: What is it? Well, here's the situation. I need more space, meters, meters, meters. Meters, dammit, I need meters. And what do I need meters for? Why do I need them? Eh? You understand, dontcha?

Sergeeva: No.

Visitor: Oh, how ignorant, well, I'll tell you, I'll tell you, dammit. You see, my family is growing and growing constantly, not day by day, but by the hour. Oh, God, my oldest, Albert, his name is, you know what he's up and done? What has he up and done? You still don't know, do you? How dense you are! Oh my God, he's gotten married. Albert has gotten married, married, married married. It's true, he chose a beauty, a good woman, why would I run her down? She's a good woman, pretty, that's true. That's true, yes, she's pretty. With little eyes and a face that's big and round, like a watermelon. And she may be presenting Albert and me with a grandbaby very soon. So? Okay? They're young, young, so, whaddaya think?

Sergeeva: To be expected.

Visitor: So they're young, a grandchild on the way, diapers... And, now we come to reason number two. Vitka, my younger one? He's a little guy, just turned six. Oh and I tell you, what a smart guy he is! A real naughty one! Naughty! He needs space, so he can play Thieves and Robbers! How about that?! So what did he come up with last week? He launched a satellite to Mars, that's what he came up with! He put a cooking pot on his head that we use for cabbage soup, that was his space helmet, and then he fired all around himself, like this: bang! bang! bang! Practically burned the whole building down. So, you see, he needs space, he needs space, you see? My kid doesn't have room to turn around. That's how it is. But here, in your place... here... gee whiz. Here he could go out in the hallway and burn whatever he likes. Why should he burn up his own room? Huh? He would go right out in the hallway and burn things to his heart's content, whether people like it or not, whatever is in his path. So that's it. Yup! That's a big plus for me, ain't it?

Sergeeva: Yes, that's a plus. Don't worry, let him burn things.

Visitor: Let him burn things. Boys'll be boys. Maybe he'll grow up to be a fireman. Why not? Alright, you've convinced me. I'll do the exchange, okay. We'll go ahead with it. We'll make out just fine here. And what's this here? The facilities, huh? I can imagine. Yes, yes, yes, we'll do it, do it, do it, we'll do the exchange.

Female Neighbor: Hariton! There's some thug here, he's just like a Red Guard! He's come to talk about doing an exchange with the neighbor. Well, go on, hurry up! Maybe he can be stopped somehow?

Visitor: I'll put the trunk right here. There. My mother's trunk weighs about a ton and a half. We'll put it right here. Mama can sleep on top of it. There. She's visiting her sister. She went to see her sister. She's at her sister's now. When she gets back from her sister's, she'll come directly here, on top of the trunk. So I'll send for Mama from Smolensk Region. And then my own father--fruit of the same womb--will follow. What, you think I wouldn't serve my own mother and father a bowl of borscht? Hmm? Or dumplings? Huh? I ask you. Am I right? I'll give them borscht and they'll keep an eye on the baby. Okay?

Sergeeva: Of course, of course. Parents--there's nothing more important.

Visitor: Ya gotta love 'em. They're my parents after all. Huh? Yes, it will fit here alright. The trunk. The little trunk will go here. Sleeps two here. Not a problem. You'll have to walk right up against the wall, up against the wall, up against the wall. But that's okay, you're not city folk. Ain't I right? There, you'll be fine, you'll squeeze in there one way or another. So let's keep on looking. What do you have here? Aha, I see, I see, I see, I see, I see, I see. Nice bathroom. Sizeable. The tub is deep. We'll use it to make pickles for the winter. Yum! Tasty. For my brother. We're kin. My bro. After all, we're human beings, not barnyard animals.

Male Neighbor: What about bathing?

Visitor: Bathing? We ain't aristocrats. You'll wash in the kitchen. Right. And on May 1st and at New Year's you can go to the bathhouse... that is, if anyone feels a pressing need.

Male Neighbor: So...

Visitor: Is this your kitchen here? Where's your table? Where is it?

Sergeeva: Well, I don't have a table.

Visitor: What do you mean, you don't have a table?

Sergeeva: The neighbors got rid of it.

Visitor: The neighbors?

Sergeeva: They said that two tables took up too much room.

Visitor: Ah, so that's how it is! Two tables take up too much room? Interesting. Which neighbors did that, huh? Was it these ones here? These bourgeois who got through the revolution without a scratch? Listen, you...

Male neighbor: Uh...

Visitor: Hell's bells! Do you hear that? Just you wait, just as soon as Nyurka gets here, she'll scratch your piggy eyes right out. D' ya hear? You'll be crying bitter tears if you so much as look at her cross-eyed. Ya hear? Brigitte Bardot! She'll send you for a walk in Africa in your birthday suit.

Male Neighbor: L-l-l-listen..!

Visitor: What?

Male neighbor: Well, I would appreciate...

Visitor: You would? Well, appreciate this! There. So. You can swallow, I'll wait. Oh, it went down. What? You want it straight between the eyes, you old cockroach? Do ya? I can oblige. Ha-ha-ha-ha.

Male neighbor: Ha-ha-ha-ha.

Visitor: Even if I have to go to prison for fifteen days for a fourth time I'll still spray you. Did I say I didn't want to do an exchange? Now I will on principle. Got it? On principle. Old lady! We're gonna do the exchange.

Sergeeva: We are?

Visitor: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Write up the application. I can't wait to get at those assholes. I'll be by in the morning. I'll wait for you. Good bye, take care. So. The diapers will hang here, the ones my grandchildren wet. Right here. Who likes to go around all wet, anyway? I ask you. Just remember your own wonderful childhood. Well, do you remember? No? Well here. Here you go. There you are. There. Here you are. There-there-there-there. Your faces look a little pale. You're not sick by any chance, are ya? Take care, now. No coughing.

Male neighbor: May I have a word with you? Please. Please. If you don't mind. Because it's in the way. There, that's all for you. All of it. But really, why should you be all cramped in your room? There's plenty of room after all. Here, and it's convenient and it costs nothing. And it looks nice. Hmmm?

Sergeeva: Thank you.

For credits, copyright, and contact information please see the "About" page at Communal Living in Russia: A Virtual Museum of Soviet Everyday Life, http://kommunalka.colgate.edu/.