Adam Wants to be a Man (1959) 81m
Posted by Solomon on 6/15/2020, 2:38 pm
Lithuanian language film made in Kaunas and a Soviet Union film. No reviews on IMDb of any kind. Title: Adomas nori buti zmogumi. Rated 7.6 on 90 votes.
"This Soviet black and white film noir is based on an allegedly true incident of scandalous fraud that rocked the pre-World War II Lithuanian Republic. World-renowned director Zalakevicius composed stark, formal scenes that recall American thriller films of the 30s as the main characters wheel and deal to the misfortune of our hero Adam and his plans for love and happiness. Adam's encounter with corrupt businessmen and decadent women encapsulates the Soviet image of independent Lithuania, while evocative symbolism links the bourgeois Republic with Nazi fascism. Hailed by critics as the film that marked the beginning of professional film production in Lithuania, it won acclaim at the 1959 Film Festival of the Baltic Republics. This film also marks the beginning of movie performances by the famous Panevezys stage director Juozas Miltinis. Donatas Banionis, star of Solaris and other major Soviet films, is superb as the hooligan capitalist who ruins the lives of many. The tension builds as Adam foregoes the budding Communist movement and strikes out on his own to fight for what is his.
"Lithuania, 1959, directed by Vytautas Zalakevicius, B&W, 90 minutes, sound, Lithuanian dialogue, no subtitles."
Thumbs up on this one. This is really a good film. Fine noir visuals all the way through and a completely noir story that's captivating. Acting is flawless. Good production values. It looks as good as any American film of the time. This is not a B-film.
The story is about a young naive man named Adam, maybe 16-17, who is poor but dreams of getting ahead. He gets a job at an emigration bureau, not knowing it's a fraud. He meets a young girl and they have a romance, well-portrayed and written; but she's more or less in the clutches or ambit of the guy conducting the fraud who wants to marry her. As in Voyage sans espoir, Buenos Aires is the location people dream about to emigrate to: palm trees, sunshine, white houses, black women and all that. It's a coming of age story, if you will.
The print I watched was first-rate. Opensubtitles has good English subs for this, even though the dvd for sale website quoted above has no subs.
The film does not have a 30s or 40s vibe. The film stock and way it's photographed may be making it look something like the 1959 Odds Against Tomorrow. It's up to date, even if the film is supposed to be set pre-war.
Posted by Don Malcolm on 6/17/2020, 11:03 am, in reply to "Adam Wants to be a Man (1959) 81m"
Good find...with any luck it will turn up at some point with STs more formally attached. A far more envelope-pushing international noir fest is still on the table, and this sounds like an interesting change of pace from many/most of the others that are under consideration.
There's a later Zalakevicius film, NOBODY WANTED TO DIE (1966), that is also set in the Lithuanian past, this one dealing with unrest and varying forms of "criminousness" in the years after WWII. It appears to be more readily available with STs from several sources; the reviews at IMDB are diametrically opposed in their assessment, but given other commentaries and the case made for ADAM WANTS TO BE A MAN, we'll figure that it's at least worth seeking out.