The Shop…(Obch o Na Korze) is a personal testament of Ján Kádar, and in the best traditions of story tellers it is couched in the form of a story, as much as the Ugly Duckling is a personal testament of the Danish master storyteller. Director Ján Kádar spent World War II in a Nazi labor camp, and his Slovakian Jewish parents and sister died at Auschwitz. “Of all my films, The Shop on Main Street touches me most closely,” he seems to have told the New York Herald Tribune, “I am not thinking of the fate of all the six million tortured Jews … my work is shaped by the fate of my father, my friends’ fathers, mothers of those near to me and by people whom I have known.”
Like all great epic filmmakers, from D. W. Griffith to David Lean, he knew the simple rule of telling an intimate story that touches the heart. Big budget epics of Hollywood may resort to spectacular sets and thousands of extras to dazzle the eye but leave the heart of the viewer untouched. Evidently the production of The Shop didn’t have a big budget. The sweep of world war could only be suggested, and the film underlines directorial control and brilliance to weave an intimate heartwarming story:there is loyalty, betrayal, cowardice and heroism.
It won the 1965 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film, The Shop on Main Street) stars Josef Kroner as Tono Briko, a slothful Czechslovakian carpenter. He is not too bright, not too ambitious either.
Thanks to his Nazi brother-in-law,who gives him jurisdiction over a button shop on Main Street owned by Rozalie he barely understands the inevitable devastation of his town and his own role in it. Rozalie is an elderly Jewish widow and deaf as a doorpost. When the Jewish population is threatened with deportation, she does not, or will not, fully understand Tono’s role as Aryan overseer, benefactor, and would-be savior. He realizes that his new job won’t bring much in the way of money; the old woman doesn’t even know there is a war going on. The shopkeeper’s Jewish friends, knowing that the woman will be carted off for extermination if she doesn’t have an Aryan coworker, offer to pay Tono if he’ll stay on as her assistant. Kroner and the old woman form a friendship, but when the order goes out that all Jews be rounded up, he panics and prepares to turn her over to the Nazis. His last-minute change of heart unfortunately comes too late.
On its initial release, The Shop on the Main Street contained several ingredients that would make it an instant classic. Firstly the heartfelt drama about the effect of the Holocaust on two humble individuals brilliantly emoted by two actors touched the heart. Secondly the timing. Czechs were dealing with a totalitarian regime of their own and a holocaust of ideological kind. Those who didn’t kowtow to Soviet hegemony were as marked as Jews under the Nazi occupation.
* Genre: Drama
* Director: Ján Kadár
* Main Cast: Josef Kroner, Frantisek Zvarik, Ida Kaminska, Hana Slivkova, Martin Holly
* Release Year: 1965
* Country: CS
* Run Time: 111 minutes
Jaromir Janacek – Editor; Ján Kadár – Director; Ján Kadár – Screenwriter; Elmar Klos – Director; Elmar Klos – Screenwriter; Zdenek Liska – Composer (Music Score); Vladimir Novotny – Cinematographer; Karel Skvor – Art Director; Ladislav Hanus – Production Manager; Ladislav Hanus – Producer; Jaromir Lukas – Producer; Jordan Balurov – Producer; Ladilsav Grossman – Screenwriter; Diana Heringova – Editor; Ladislav Grosman – Short Story Author
Bittere Ernte; Demanty Noci; Wielki Tydzien; Concorrenza Sleale; … A Pátý Jezdec Je Strach; Divided We Fall; Smrt Krasných Srncu; Do You Remember Dolly Bell?
(Ack: Allmovie guide,answers.com,wikipedia)