The Diamond Arm
|The Diamond Arm|
|Directed by||Leonid Gaidai|
|Written by||Leonid Gaidai
|Music by||Aleksandr Zatsepin|
|Editing by||Valentina Yankovskaya|
|Running time||100 minutes|
The Diamond Arm (Russian: Бриллиантовая рука, translit. Brilliantovaya ruka) is a 1968 Soviet comedy film filmed by Mosfilm and first released in 1968. The film was directed by director Leonid Gaidai and starred several famous Soviet actors, including Yuri Nikulin, Andrei Mironov, Anatoli Papanov, Nonna Mordyukova and Svetlana Svetlichnaya. The Diamond Arm has become a Russian cult film and is considered by many Russian contemporaries to be one of the finest comedies of its time. It was also one of the all-time leaders at the Soviet box office with over 76,700,000 theatre admissions in the Soviet era. The plot of the film was based on a real-life news item about Swiss smugglers who tried to transport jewels in an orthopedic cast.
The boss of a black market ring (known only as "The Chief") wants to smuggle a batch of jewelry from Turkey into the Soviet Union by hiding it inside the orthopedic cast of a courier. The Chief sends a minor henchman named Gennadiy Kozodoyev (played by Mironov) to serve as the courier. Kozodoyev travels to Turkey via a tourist cruise ship. The Turkish co-conspirators do not know what the courier looks like; they only know that he is supposed to say a secret phrase to identify himself. Due to a mix-up, they mistake Kozodoyev's fellow passenger from the cruise ship, the "ordinary Soviet citizen" Semyon Gorbunkov (played by Nikulin) for the courier. They place a cast around his arm and put the contraband jewels inside the cast. Upon the cruise ship's return to the Soviet Union, Gorbunkov lets the militsiya know what happened, and the militsiya captain uses Gorbunkov as bait to catch the criminals. Most of the plot are various attempts of The Chief's inept henchmen, Kozodoyev and Lyolik (played by Papanov), to lure Gorbunkov into a situation where they can quietly, without a wet job, remove the cast and reclaim the contraband jewels.
- Yuri Nikulin, Semyon Semyonovich Gorbunkov, an economist at Giproryba
- Nina Grebeshkova, Nadia, Gorbunkov's wife
- Andrei Mironov, Gennadiy Kozodoyev, aka Gesha, a male model
- Anatoli Papanov, Lyolik, chief's assistant
- Nonna Mordyukova, Varvara Pliushch, building superintendent
- Svetlana Svetlichnaya, Anna Sergeyevna, a femme fatale
- Andrei Fajt, salesman of lottery tickets, visitor of the restaurant "Weeping willow"
- Nikolay Trofimov, Colonel of militsiya
- Oleksandr Khvylia, Boris Savelyevich, maitre d'
- Tatyana Nikulina, Istanbul tour guide
- Maksim Nikulin, boy with a net (not credited)
- Leonid Gaidai, alcoholic (not credited)
Catch phrases 
|This section is a candidate to be copied to Wikiquote using the Transwiki process.|
Nearly every expression from the movie became popular in Russian culture or has passed into everyday use.
- "Buy a pack and win..." - "...A water-pump station! Drop your stupid propaganda!" (Кто возьмет билетов пачку, тот получит... - Водокачку! Бросьте свою дурацкую агитацию!) - Upravdom scoffs at lottery salesman.
- "As a friend of mine... deceased now... used to say - I knew too much..."
- "And if the tenants refuse (to buy lottery tickets), we'll shut off the gas!"
- "A dog is a man's best friend!" ---"Well, maybe in London a dog is a man's best friend, but here it's the UPRAVDOM (apartment manager)." (The upravdom woman finally became a caricature of a seemingly petty but influential social bureaucrat.)
- "Only aristocrats and degenerates drink champagne in the morning..." (Шампанское по утрам пьют только аристократы или дегенераты) (pauses, checks out the bottle and drinks right from it)
- (tears in his eyes) "They might even give me an award... post-humo-usly!" (sniffs)
- "You should come over and visit us in Kolyma (a harsh-climate prison region in Russia's Far North)." (Chokes on beer, coughing...) - "Thanks, but I'd rather you come here to see us."
- "Tsigel, tsigel, ay-lyu-lyu (ay-loo-loo)!" Many people seriously think that "Tsigel" (Cigel, Ziegel) means "time" in some foreign language. The (fictional) phrase "Ziegel, Ziegel, ay-lyu-lyu!" ("Цигель, цигель, ай-лю-лю!") expresses hurry and urgency, either for real or as a mockery. (Occasionally, Ziegel is "brick" in German and Yiddish.)
- "Ay-lyu-lyu" is also a jocular reference to sex as in another quote "Tsigel, ay-lyu-lyu?" as coming from a (Turkish) street hooker but answered with a hurried "Ay-loo-loo later on!" ("ай-лю-лю потом"). This could also be a reference to the popular Yiddish lullaby "Raisins and Almonds" ("Rozhenkes mit mandlen"), where these words appear, "tsigel" here meaning a small goat.
- "As our beloved Chief likes to say..." (Now, sometimes used when quoting one's boss)
- "Strike the iron without walking away from the cash register" (Куй железо не отходя от кассы) (a portmanteau of a proverb "Strike while the iron is hot" and an instruction for customers by each Soviet cashier's desk: "Count your money before walking away from the cash register")
- "Even teetotallers and those with stomach ulcer will have a drink on someone else's tab!" In Russian it rhymes nicely: "За чужой счет пьют даже трезвенники... и язвенники!"
- "I haven't yet seen a husband who wouldn't want to become a bachelor for just an hour..."
- "If a person is an idiot, that tends to last awhile" ("Если человек идиот, то это надолго")
- "Time is money. If you see money, don't waste time" ("Время - деньги. Если видишь деньги, не теряй времени")
- A curse: "May you live... only on your... PAYCHECK!" (Чтоб ты жил... на одну... ЗАРПЛАТУ!) ("May you live off your salary only!" with an implication of "never benefit from illicit and more gainful sources of income")
- A curse: "May I see you in a coffin, in white slippers!" (Шоб я видел тя у гробу! У белых тапках!) (A catch phrase styled in the fashion of Odessa Jewish humour, but pronounced with some unidentified, mocked Ukrainian accent.)
- A mocking reproach: "Semyon Semyonych!..." (Of an absent-minded person to wake him up.)
- A comment to an embarrassing situation when a demo fails: "With a casual hand gesture, the pants are turning into... the pants are turning INTO... into a pair of elegant shorts!"
- "Obliko morale" a mockingly Italianized Russian term "moralny oblik" (моральный облик), "moral character", a part of the cliché "moral character of a Soviet person". In the film it was uttered by the character when he tried to circumnavigate a foreign prostitute: "Russo turisto! Obliko morale! Verstehen?".
- "Ice cream for the kids, flowers for his woman. And don't mix it up, Kutuzov!" (Дитям мороженое, его бабе цветы... и не перепутай, Кутузов!)
- "I'm innocent! He came by himself!" ("Не виноватая я! Он сам пришёл!") (After Semyon Semyonovich was supposed to have "illegal" sex with a set-up call girl. Apparently, paroding Katyusha's lines from Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.)
- "Ksiva... Haza... Klient... Bye-bye, boy!..." (The ID? The place? The client? Bye-bye, boy!) (A parody on underworld slang as coming from a professional hooker. The vocabularly is authentic, although rarely used in real slang. "Haza" probably originates from English "house" or Hungarian "ház" (house).)
- "I'm not a coward... But I'm scared..." "Я не трус, но я боюсь!"
- "I've got an idea: what if we could..." -- "We couldn't." -- "I see... Then, maybe we should..." -- "No, we shouldn't." -- "Okay... In that case, maybe I'd rather..." -- "Why not, you could try that one." (A caricature of a militsiya commander who is so astute that he is almost a mind-reader)
- "As they say, that is c'est la vie!" ("такова се-ля-ви") (c'est la vie is French for "that is life", in other words the phrase is a double mis-translation: "that is that is life" Also, cf. later Dovlatov's catch phrase "таково се-ля-ви" ("such is c'est la vie", where "such" is used in the neuter gender, as if alluding to the Russian word for "crap"), which is clearly patterned on this quote.)
- "Hmm, well, we'll have to take appropriate action... What else can we do?" ("Придется принимать меры. А что делать?") - the apartment manager, who really has no business in tenants' affairs
- "But Lyolik, that is not aesthetic!" -- "That's cheap, reliable and practical!" (rhymes nicely in Russian: "Лёлик, но это же не эстетично!" - "Зато дёшево, надёжно и практично.") (As preparing to hit Semyon Semyonovich on the head with a metal tool.)
- "Well, and what about my alibi?" - "Oh, yes. You'll stay on the crime scene with marks of violence on your face, also as aggression victim." - "But Lyolik, please..." - "Don't worry, Kozlodoyev! I'll punch you carefully, but hard!" ("А мое алиби?" - "Ах, да. Ты остаёшься на месте преступления со следами насилия на лице, тоже как жертва нападения неизвестных." - "Только, Лелик, я прошу..." - "Нэ бэспокойся, Козлодоёв! Буду бить аккуратно, но сильно!")
- "Our people don't take a taxi to the bakery!" (In Russian: "Наши люди в булочную на такси не ездят!" (Mocking the cliché "our people" as referring to "the Soviet people" with "obliko morale". In fact, a catch phrase mocking the communist or socialist way of life in general.)
- The Song About Rabbits
The metaphorical "Song About Rabbits" ("Песня про зайцев") became a popular song during the late 1960s. It tells the story of a group of personified rabbits harvesting grass at night and proclaiming that they are not afraid of any predators, be they wolves or owls. The rabbits boldly sing a refrain that can be roughly translated as "We don't care!" ("A нам всё равно!"). Some interpret the song as referring to the cannabis as the grass being harvested by the rabbits in the lyrics is mysteriously described as a nonsense word "tryn" grass.
The song was performed in the movie by the protagonist Semyon Gorbunkov after heavy dose of vodka at the restaurant. The scene was even later depicted on a stamp dedicated to the actor. Recorded by Yuri Nikulin himself.
- The Island of Bad Luck
The ironic "The Island of Bad Luck" ("Остров невезения") also became popular after the film's release. It was sang in the movie by the Kozodoyev during the cruise as he strums a guitar while relaxing on the ship's deck. The song is thematic, as it presages the bad luck that Kozodoyev experiences throughout the entire film. The song was recorded by Mironov himself. This is not uncommon, as many Russian actors of that time were proficient in dancing and singing, as well as acting.
- Help Me
The third and final popular song from this film was "Help Me" ("Помоги мне") was performed by Aida Vedishcheva, a Soviet era singer best known for her performance of songs for films produced in the 1960s. The tango-styled song is about love and passion, and is played in the background during a scene when a beautiful woman hired by the Chief's henchmen attempts to seduce and drug Gorbunkov.
- The Diamond Arm at AllRovi
- The Diamond Arm at the Internet Movie Database
- The Diamond Arm (with English subtitles)