The Shop on Main Street

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The Shop on Main Street
The shop on main street post.jpg
Film poster
Directed byJán Kadár
Elmar Klos
Written byNovel:
Ladislav Grosman
Ladislav Grosman
Ján Kadár
Elmar Klos
StarringIda Kamińska
Jozef Kroner
Hana Slivková
Martin Hollý, Sr.
František Zvarík
Martin Gregor
Music byZdeněk Liška
CinematographyVladimír Novotný
Edited byDiana Heringová
Jaromír Janáček
Release date
  • 8 October 1965 (1965-10-08)
Running time
125 minutes
Box office$1,450,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

The Shop on Main Street (Czech/Slovak: Obchod na korze; in the UK The Shop on the High Street) is a 1965 Czechoslovak film[2] about the Aryanization programme during World War II in the Slovak State.[3]

The film was written by Ladislav Grosman and directed by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos. It was funded by Czechoslovakia's central authorities (as were all films under the Communist regime), produced at the Barrandov Film Studio in Prague, and filmed with a Slovak cast on location at the town of Sabinov in north-eastern Slovakia and on the Barrandov sound stage. It stars Jozef Kroner as carpenter Tóno Brtko and Polish actress Ida Kamińska as the Jewish widow Rozália Lautmannová.[4]

The film won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film,[5] and Kamińska was nominated one year later for Best Actress in a Leading Role.[6] The film was entered into the 1965 Cannes Film Festival.[7]


During World War II, a mild-mannered Slovak carpenter Anton "Tóno" Brtko (Jozef Kroner) is offered the chance to take over the sewing notions store of an old, near-deaf Jewish woman Rozália Lautmannová (Ida Kamińska) as a part of the enactment of an Aryanization regulation in the town. As Tóno attempts to explain to Mrs. Lautmannová, who is oblivious of the world outside and generally confused, that he has come to be her supervisor and owner of the store, Imrich Kuchár (Martin Hollý, Sr.), a Slovak opponent of Aryanization, steps in and reveals to Brtko that the business is less than profitable because Lautmannová relies on donations. The Jewish community then offers the amiable Brtko a weekly payment if he does not give up the store, which otherwise would be given to a new, possibly ruthless Aryanizer. Tóno accepts and lets Mrs. Lautmannová believe he is her nephew who has come to help in the store. Their relationship grows until the authorities round up the town's entire Jewish population for transport, and Tóno finds himself conflicted as to whether he should turn in the senile Mrs. Lautmannová or hide her. Drinking steadily, he loses his nerve and attempts to cajole and then force her into the street with the other Jewish prisoners, but he repents when he sees them being carted away. When the woman finally becomes aware of the pogrom all around her, however, she panics, and in attempting to silence her, Tóno accidentally kills her. The realization devastates him, and he hangs himself. The movie ends with a dream sequence with the now deceased Rozália and her late spouse running together in their wedding outfits.


The screenplay had a bilingual Czech−Slovak history. The screenwriter Ladislav Grosman (1921–1981) was born and grew up in Slovakia. Grosman published his precursor to the screenplay, the short story "The Trap" ("Past"), in Czech in 1962.[8] Only three of its themes were used in the film. He subsequently reworked and expanded it, still in Czech, as a literary-narrative screenplay published in 1964 under the title "The Shop on Main Street" (Obchod na korze),[9] which already contained the film's story, although not in the usual (American) screenplay format.[10] He then reworked it into a shooting script with Slovak dialogues in cooperation with the film's designated directors Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos. The only other language in the film is Yiddish (sometimes misidentified as German) limited to several lines that Mrs. Lautmannová mutters to herself. Her Hebrew reading from the siddur is indistinct.


Actor Role
Jozef Kroner (1924–1998) Anton "Tóno" Brtko, carpenter
Ida Kamińska (1899–1980) Rozália Lautmannová, button-store owner
Hana Slivková (1923–1984) Evelína Brtková, Tóno's wife
Martin Hollý Sr. (1904–1965) Imrich Kuchár, accountant and resistance member
František Zvarík (1921–2008) Markuš Kolkotský, town commander
Elena Pappová-Zvaríková (1935–1974) Ružena "Róžika" Kolkotská, his wife and Evelína's sister
Adam Matejka (1905–1988) Piti-báči (Uncle Piti), town crier
Martin Gregor (1906–1982) Mr. Katz, barber
František Papp (1930–1983) Mr. Andorič, railroad employee and Rozália's neighbor
Gita Mišurová (b. 1929) Mrs. Andoričová, his wife
Eugen Senaj (1901–1981) Mr. Blau, publisher and Jewish community treasurer
Lujza Grossová (1917–1981) Mrs. Eliášová, Rozália's neighbor
J. Mittelmann Daniel "Danko" Eliáš, her son
Mikuláš Ladžinský (1923–1987) Marian Peter, paramilitary guard officer
Alojz Kramár (1916–1985) Balko-báči (Uncle Balko), brass-band conductor
Tibor Vadaš (1908–1987) Tobacconist

The Shop on Main Street was filmed on location at the town of Sabinov in north-eastern Slovakia with numerous local extras whose voices bring in hints of the eastern regional variety of Slovak. Ida Kamińska's Polish accent is employed to the same effect.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  2. ^ Andrew James Horton, "Just Who Owns the Shop? — Identity and nationality in Obchod na korze."
  3. ^ Steven Banovac, "Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos: The Shop on Main Street (Obchod na korze) 1965."
  4. ^ Martin Votruba, "Historical and Cultural Background of Slovak Filmmaking."
  5. ^ "The 38th Academy Awards (1966) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-11-06.
  6. ^ Elizabeth Taylor Wins Best Actress: 1967 Oscars
  7. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Shop on Main Street". Retrieved 2009-03-05.
  8. ^ Ladislav Grosman, "Past." Plamen, 1962.
  9. ^ Ladislav Grosman, "Obchod na korze." Divadlo, 1964.
  10. ^ English translation by Iris Urwin: Ladislav Grosman, The Shop on Main Street. Garden City, 1970.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film
Succeeded by
A Man and a Woman