The Diamond Arm – The Island of Bad Luck

I‘ve just read the synopsis of The Diamond Arm (Brilliantovaya Ruka), a 1968 film by Leonid Gaidai, and it crossed my mind that it can be viewed as a comic improvisation on the theme of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. The protagonist, Semyon Gorbunkov, slips and breaks his arm, while on a Mediterranean cruise. His cast is “stuffed” with gold and diamonds, and, as he leaves the ship, he becomes a target for smugglers who want to fetch back their jewels, and for the Russian police who want to capture smugglers.

I’ve never seen Andrei Mironov on stage; but I’ve seen Yuri Nikulin twice. Once, as a child, when I asked him to leave his autograph on my ticket to the New Year ball at the Kremlin. The second time it was in 1997 when I graduated from school, and we were assembled at our municipal hall, to be handed in our medals. Nikulin came to greet us. Moscow is divided into several municipal districts, and we all lived in the Southern, so Nikulin said: “They asked me to visit several districts, but then I heard “Southern”, and I thought: it’s South, it’s warm there, so I came to you“. It was in June 1997; in December 1997 he died, following a heart operation.

So, in the video below you will see both Mironov (Gena) and Nikulin (Senya), in a sketch to The Island of Bad Luck song. The story goes that Mironov knew English very well, but, unless my ears are totally wrong, he did the unthinkable. At the end of his jazzy improvisation he exclaims “oh yes, bitch, LA”. If this really is so, then The Diamond Arm broke a few Soviet rules with just one song…

Senya: And I like the song about hares…
Gena: About what?
Senya: About hares.
Gena: Senya, about hares is not topical. Here is The Island of Bad Luck

All covered in green,
Absolutely all,
The Island of Bad Luck
Lies there in the ocean,
The Island of Bad Luck
Lies there in the ocean,
All covered in green,
Absolutely all.

There live the unfortunate
Barbaric people,
Ugly on the outside,
Kind on the inside,

Ugly on the outside,
Kind on the inside,
There live the unfortunate
Barbaric people.

Whatever they do,
Nothing can be done.
Apparently, they were
All born on a Monday,
Apparently, they were
All born on a Monday,
Whatever they do,
Nothing can be done.

They are not lazy,
And they could live well,
They should just
Repeal Mondays,
They should just
Repeal Mondays,
They are not lazy,
And they could live well.

Sadly, on the island
There is no calendar,
Little kids and adults
Are wasted,
Little kids and adults
Are wasted
Because on the damned island
There is no calendar.

And for this reason
From dusk till dawn
The unlucky barbars
Shed tears,
And curse, poor things,
And swear at their fate
On a unknown day
In the unknown year!

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