A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"I want to find out what the censors say about my film," Andrei Konchalovsky whispered to the projectionist. "I'll give you a bottle of brandy if you eavesdrop after the screening, and let me know what their objections are." "Why not?" said the projectionist, and the next day, he reported their deliberations to the movie director. "But this was nothing," the projectionist added. "You should have heard what they said about the movies in Stalin's day." "In Stalin's day?" asked Konchalovsky.
"Yes. I was his projectionist." Konchalovsky unscrewed the cap from the brandy he had brought along and settled down in the Moscow projection booth. "Tell me more," he said.
And the projectionist did, talking for hours about the glorious days of his youth, when he was Josef Stalin's private projectionist, showing him the latest Russian, European and Hollywood movies - and the newsreels that reported the progress of World War II.
"We could write a book," Konchalovsky told him. "We'll sell it to the Americans. We'll make $100,000." "I don't know how much money I'll get," the projectionist said, "but I can tell you how many years I might get in the gulag." Konchalovsky, who was then one of the leading Soviet film directors, remembered the conversation for many years. In 1979, he left Moscow, where he was a celebrity, to go to Los Angeles, where he was a non-entity. He did not work for three years, and when he finally got a film to direct, it was a $50,000, half-hour project with a producer hanging over his shoulder to see if he really knew his stuff.