Anton Chekhov on Screen

Roman s kontrabasom / Romance with a Double Bass
R: Kai Hansen. B: Anton Chekhov (short story “Roman s kontrabasom”, 1886), Cheslav Sabinsky. K: Joseph-Louis Mundwiller. D: Vera Gorskaya, Nikolai Vasilyev. P: Pathé. RUS / Fr 1911

Charles Musser, in ‘The Emergence of Cinema’, mentions a number of American comedies in which women’s bodies are exposed for the pleasure of male audiences. This one differs slightly from that earthy tradition. For one thing, it’s based on a Chekhov short story, suggesting that even where light comedy was concerned, Russian audiences wanted to class up the movies with a little culture. For another, the man in this story is also deprived of clothing, although his embarrassment is not lingered over as much. It’s hard to imagine that female audiences found his skinny frame as interesting as the men found the princess, either. Finally, in the movies Musser mentions, the father is often also the butt of some Oedipal prank, as where the escaping boyfriend topples the peeping father from a ladder in How the Athletic Lover Outwitted the Old Man, but here the father is an agent of the girl’s humiliation.”
Century Film Project