The Diamond Arm

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The Diamond Arm
Film poster
Directed by Leonid Gaidai
Written by Leonid Gaidai
Yakov Kostyukovsky
Moris Slobodskoy
Starring Yuri Nikulin
Nina Grebeshkova
Andrei Mironov
Anatoli Papanov
Nonna Mordyukova
Music by Aleksandr Zatsepin
Cinematography Igor Chernykh
Edited by Valentina Yankovskaya
Distributed by Mosfilm
Release date
April 28, 1969
Running time
100 minutes
Country Soviet Union
Language Russian

The Diamond Arm (Russian: Бриллиантовая рука Brilliantovaya ruka) is a Soviet comedy film made by Mosfilm and first released in 1969. 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 all 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 a foreign state into the Soviet Union by hiding it inside the orthopedic cast of a courier. The Chief sends a minor henchman named Gennadiy 'Gesha' Kozodoyev (played by Mironov) to serve as the courier. Kozodoyev travels to Oriental state via a tourist cruise ship. The local co-conspirators do not know what the courier looks like; they only know that he is supposed to say a code word 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 police know what happened, and the police captain, who is working undercover as a taxi driver, uses Gorbunkov as bait to catch the criminals. Most of the plot are various attempts of The Chief's inept henchmen, Gesha 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. In the meantime, Gorbunkov's wife begins to suspect that he has either been recruited by foreign intelligence, or is having an affair...



A monument to the characters of The Diamond Arm in Sochi, Russia
The Island of Bad Luck

The ironic "The Island of Bad Luck" ("Остров невезения") also became popular after the film's release. It was sung 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.

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 magic tryn-trava 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!"). Russian nonsense word "tryn-trava" (literally tryn grass) means "without caring".

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.

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 parodic song is about love and passion, and is played in the background during a scene when a femme fatale hired by the Chief's henchmen attempts to seduce and drug Gorbunkov.

Interesting Fact[edit]

American cars can be spotted in the Oriental city street scenes (which were actually shot in Azerbaijan, USSR): a 1954 Chevrolet 210, a 1955 Buick and a 1951 Oldsmobile Super 88. This would have been a extremely rare sighting since the United States had sanctions with the USSR and did not sell cars within the Eastern Bloc.

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