Another Instance of Imitation?


Famous Hollywood actor Richard Gere brilliantly played in The Cotton Club (directed by Francis Ford Coppola, produced by American Zoetrope, 1984) and Pretty Woman (directed by Garry Marshall, produced by Touchstone Pictures, 1990). The former portrays a jazzman with criminal connections and the latter actually promotes prostitution. But, few moviegoers in the West know that these feature films were preceded by Soviet movies, covering basically the same topics.

«Мы из джаза» (Jazzmen, directed by Karen Shakhnazarov, produced by Mosfilm Studios, 1983) is a musical comedy about the amateur jazz band, which tries to popularize, with varying success, the New World’s music in the early days of the Soviet Union. The unsuspecting musicians gave one of their first performances during a gangsters’ banquet, which eventually turned into a drunken brawl. The more or less same scene is contained in The Cotton Club, where the jazzman, played by Gere, saved the life of a gangster in a restaurant. By the way, both Jazzmen and The Cotton Club take place in the 1920s.

«Интердевочка» (Intergirl, directed by Pyotr Todorovsky, produced by Mosfilm Studios, 1989) is a drama film about a Soviet prostitute, rendering services to foreign tourists. The enterprising hustler managed to marry a Swedish businessman. But, even the prosperous life abroad didn’t bring happiness to her. A drunken friend of her husband made an attempt to rape her. Pretty Woman contains the same scene, where a business partner of a corporate raider, played by Gere, also made an attempt to rape the latter’s call girl, who eventually married the corporate raider.

Political background of the movies was considerably different. Fifth column in the Soviet leadership used Intergirl as an ideological weapon, so as to undermine the relatively high morale of Soviet society. At the same time, Pretty Woman was just another advertising campaign for the already widespread adult industry in USA and other capitalist countries.

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