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We leave for Moscow in 1968 and understand the intricate route of the heroes of Tatiana Doronina and Oleg Efremov.

In the spring of 1968, Tatyana Lioznova’s film Three Poplars on Plyushchikha was released. The tape was watched by 26 million viewers, the leading actress Tatyana Doronina was recognized by the magazine “Soviet Screen” as the best actress of the year, and the song “Tenderness”, sung by her heroine, became a real hit.

For more than fifty years, “Three Poplars” have not lost their charm: the simple story of two people who missed each other in the capital still touches hearts. The history of the painting can be found in the article.

It all started with a song

Alexander Pakhmutov wrote his “Tenderness” together with the poets Sergei Grebennikov and Nikolai Dobronravov in 1965. She entered the cycle “Embracing the Sky” dedicated to Soviet pilots. When Maya Kristalinskaya sang it for the first time, the audience greeted the song coolly – it seemed a little strange. The lyrical heroine first addresses her beloved, who flew away on a flight, and then suddenly recalls the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who, as you know, wrote his “Little Prince” shortly before the tragic death during a reconnaissance flight in 1944.

It was just as empty on Earth,

And when Exupery flew,

The foliage in the gardens also fell,

And the Earth could not come up with,

How can she live without him, while

He flew, he flew

And all the stars to him

Gave away

Your tenderness …

It was with “Tenderness” that “Three Poplars on Plyushchikha” began. Tatyana Lioznova liked the song very much, who had already shot several films at that time (although the main triumph – “Seventeen Moments of Spring” – was still ahead, in 1973). The “Iron Lady” of Soviet cinema decided to definitely use the mysterious song in her next film. She tried on one or another story … Once, after reading the story of Alexander Borschagovsky “Three poplars on Shabolovka”, Lioznova realized: this is it! Two heroes meet by chance and pass by their possible happiness. The key to their story will be Tenderness. Lioznova transferred the action from Shabolovka to Plyushchikha in order to avoid unnecessary associations (the Shukhov tower located on Shabolovka at that time was a symbol of Soviet television).

The story behind the film is simple and unforgettable. A young woman Nyura (Tatyana Doronina) comes from a village to Moscow to sell homemade ham on the market. From the station to Plyushchikha, where her daughter-in-law Nyura lives, she is driven by taxi driver Alexander (Oleg Efremov). Sympathy develops between them, and the heroes agree to meet later. But circumstances get in the way, and their love story stops at the very beginning. The simplest plot was supplemented by the acting talent of Doronina and Efremov, the work of Lioznova and the cameraman Pyotr Kataev, the music of Pakhmutova – and the result was a wonderful film.

The climactic scene is associated with that very song. Remember? It is raining, the characters are sitting in the car, Sasha is looking for the song “Tenderness” on the radio – it is often played on the air, and Anna, with her usual simplicity, says that she does not know such a song, but she also has one favorite. She begins to sing, and it turns out that this is exactly the same composition. In the eyes of the hero Efremov, shot in close-up, it becomes clear: he is gone.

By the way, close-ups are one of the main tools with which Lioznova achieved a special atmosphere in her picture. And how such plans can be filmed technically in the car, came up with the operator Peter Kataev. They found an understudy for the taxi in which the heroes are sitting. The second car was sawed and its windshield removed. Thus, the camera could get as close as possible to Efremov and Doronina from any angle.

There were other tricks – where without them in a big movie. Lioznova wanted to give the actors’ dialogue alive during the rain, that is, without subsequent re-sounding. But when water poured onto the roof of the taxi from a car simulating rain, it became clear that this completely drowns out the voices. The solution was invented by the sound engineer of the picture, Leonard Bukhov. Several mats were placed on the roof of the car, which softened unnecessary noise.

Doronina and Efremov: two in the “Three Poplars”

The performers of the main roles first met on the set of Mikhail Kalatozov’s film “First Echelon” back in 1955. For both, it was a debut in the cinema, however, Efremov immediately got a big role (he played the secretary of the Komsomol organization Alexei Uzorov), and Doronina was an episodic one. The actors will act together more than once – in the films “Soldiers walked”, “Once again about love”, “Olga Sergeevna”. They also worked a lot in the theater until the split of the Moscow Art Theater in 1987. Their duet in “Three Poplars” captivated the audience, after the release of the picture there were even rumors about the romance of the actors.

The role of Sasha Lioznova was initially considered by Nikolai Rybnikova (“Spring on Zarechnaya Street”, “Girl without an Address”, “Girls”), with whom she had already worked in 1963 on the set of the film “Heaven Submits to Him.” As for the main character, the director had no doubts: Tatyana Doronina should play her. At the first meeting with the actress, Lioznova asked her to learn the song “Tenderness” and come when she was ready. Doronina knew the song and sang it right on the spot.

However, in the future, it did not do without difficult situations. For example, once Doronina insisted on changing one of the scenes. According to Lioznova’s idea, Nyura was supposed to eat ice cream at the station before leaving for Moscow. But the actress flatly refused. Cause? Dislikes ice cream. And Lioznova, known for her iron character, gave in.

You are the best girl in the USSR: 10 main roles of Tatyana Doronina

There was another great woman with whom the director had to find a common language – Alexandra Pakhmutova. The entire film was based on “Tenderness”; it was essential for Lioznova to get permission to use the song. At first, Alexandra Nikolaevna was skeptical about this story, but when she was shown a rough version of the scene where Doronina sings, she was impressed. She not only gave away Tenderness, but also agreed to write all the soundtrack for the motion picture.

By the way, there was another hit of that time in the film – Oui, je crois (“Yes, I believe”) performed by Mireille Mathieu. The song of the French diva sounds when Nyura rides a cart through the village. It would seem a dissonance. But there is no irony: although Nyura is simply dressed and sits next to a suitcase of bacon, at this time we see in her a person with a rich inner world, a serious, thinking person.

Amazing route

Another heroine of the film was Moscow. We propose to follow in the footsteps of Nyura and Sasha and remember the background against which their story unfolds.

True, the first time a viewer enters the capital even before the heroine arrives there. Remember how a taxi driver picks up a young girl from Komsomolsky Prospekt in the morning? We see the cinema “Fitil”, which is still open today, and a little in the distance – the Church of St. Nicholas in Khamovniki.

The girl, whom Sasha looks at with restrained disapproval and with whom Anna will soon contrast so strongly, asks to take her home “to Kutuzovsky, for the panorama” – that is, in the vicinity of the Borodino Battle panorama museum. An attentive viewer will quickly notice the artistic assumption: in fact, the taxi driver is dropping the girl off in Pozharsky Lane. Then Sasha drives through empty morning Moscow, the Lubyanskaya Square shot from above flashes.

Next time we will find ourselves in Moscow with the heroine and will catch a taxi with her on Komsomolskaya Square, and at the same time take a look around. It is unusual to see the square without a department store – it will only be built in 1983, that is, 25 years after filming.

The heroes finally meet – Nyura gets into a taxi and drives through the capital’s streets with another passenger – a kind grandfather. Sasha takes him to Bolshaya Pirogovskaya Street, to the dormitory complex of the Institute of Red Professors. This is an interesting example of late 1920s constructivism: eight buildings are staggered and connected by galleries. The complex was built in 1929-1932. It housed dormitories and apartments for employees of the institute. Due to its unusual layout, the building was called the “saw house”.

Empire style, classicism and a lot of constructivism: walking around Khamovniki

It’s not long to go from Bolshaya Pirogovka to Plyushchikha, but for some reason the heroes go to travel around the capital. Either Sasha did not want to part with the beautiful passenger so quickly, or it was important for Tatyana Lioznova to show another beauty – Moscow. First we get to Novy Arbat (then – Kalinin Avenue). Construction is still nearing completion here. Houses-books are already standing, but there are still no commercial buildings between them. The frame here captures the church of Simeon the Stylite on Povarskaya, which miraculously survived during the construction of Kalinin Avenue.

It’s starting to rain. Our heroes will wait for him, parked in the Sivtsev Vrazhek lane. Here one of the key dialogues will take place and the same song will be sung. The rain gradually ends, and we magically find ourselves on Manezhnaya Square (in 1967, when the shooting took place, it was still a thoroughfare). Then – Smolenskaya embankment and Komsomolsky prospect. Here, at the Gorizont cinema, Sasha bypasses the line, claiming that “Czech comrades are sitting in his car,” and buys two tickets for the film Meeting in the Mountains. The film is real – a comedy by the Georgian director Nikolai Sanishvili, filmed in 1966.

Under Nyura’s naive reasoning about America, we again find ourselves on the Smolenskaya embankment and finally reach Plyushchikha. The heroine describes the building she needs in the following way: “There is such a house that you cannot overlook it. You can see it from everywhere … The bridge is there. And the church is old. As the house was folded, so the church went into the ground. I got bored. ” Finally, it was found – this is the House of Architects, which is located at Rostovskaya embankment, house 5. And the “church” is the Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin, which has not survived to this day. In 1932 it was closed, and by the end of the 1960s it was completely demolished.

Interestingly, the scenes at the house of Nyura’s daughter-in-law were actually filmed at the House of Architects. The owners of the apartment temporarily ceded to her film crew. Cinematographers had to build the cafe “Three Poplars” themselves. Near him, the hero of Efremov will wait for Nyura for an hour. While watching this scene, modern viewers probably experience the same emotions as those who first watched this film in 1968: they worry when the heroine cannot find the keys, they hope that Sasha will still wait … And they think after the title “The End” why Nyura never came out.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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